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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Indonesia stops ‘soap opera’ executions like Andrew and Myuran’s

Fourteen people were executed in Indonesia last year for drug offences
Fourteen people were executed in Indonesia last year for drug offences.
Indonesia will not allow a repeat of the “soap opera” which ­surrounded the executions last year of convicted drug traffickers, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran, the country’s security minister vowed yesterday.

“Of course there will be (executions). When and where we still don’t know,” Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan said in Jakarta in response to questions from journalists.

“But there won’t be a soap opera like the last time, because I think that wasn’t pretty. It will just be three days’ notice and then ­execution. I don’t think there should be a big fuss.

“There was a lot of talk on the previous one, and there should not have been. So (next time) there will only be one voice.”

The Attorney-General, HM ­Prasetyo, said earlier this month that executions would likely resum­e this year following a brief suspension for economic reasons, but the government has so far refuse­d to give any further detail.

Fourteen people were executed in Indonesia last year for drug offences, including Chan and ­Sukumaran, the two leaders of the so-called Bali Nine.

In the lead-up to their deaths, and those of foreign nationals from Brazil, The Netherlands and Nigeria last April, there was intense­ foreign media attention and diplomatic pressure on Indon­esia, as well as repeated pleas for mercy from foreign governments, international organisations and family members.

Supporters of Chan and ­Sukumaran argued that both men had fully rehabilitated in Bali’s Kerobokan prison: Chan, 31, ran Bible study classes and Sukumaran, 33, took up painting.

Though Indonesian President Joko Widodo rejected their clemency pleas, there have been no ­further executions since then, with the government suggesting it needed to concentrate on reviving its flagging economy.

Among those still sitting on ­Indonesia’s death row for drug ­offences are British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, sentenced to death for cocaine smuggling in 2013, and Filippino domestic worker Mary Jane Veloso, who was spared at the 11th hour last year after her alleged human trafficker­ surrendered on the day of her execution.

Indonesia defends its use of the death penalty for drug traffickers by pointing to the scourge of drug use on its own citizens.

Mr Luhut said yesterday that drug use among Indonesians had soared in the past year, citing a 350 per cent increase in the use of the party drug ecstasy, and a 280 per cent increase in demand for shabu (ice).

“The magnitude of the drugs issue is huge. Terrorism is one big threat but after this I think maybe drugs even more of a threat,” he said.

But when questioned about the effectiveness of the death penalty for drug traffickers, given the country’s skyrocketing drug problem, Mr Luhut appeared to ­suggest Indonesia could step up its rate of executions.

“We like to evaluate what is best for Indonesia and until today our laws still allow us to (execute drug offenders),” Mr Luhut said.

“We will see. We have never carried out very intensive executions on this drug issue. We will see in two to three years’ time what is the result of this.”

The Australian sought clarification on whether Indonesia ­intended to intensify execution rates and was told by the minister’s spokesman: “The constit­ution allows us to punish offenders with the death penalty.

“But doing executions is not easy: there are a lot of processes to go through, and it is not cheap ­either.”

The last two rounds of executions in Indonesia are believed to have cost about $206,000.

The government has allocated funds in its 2015-16 budget for ­executions, and Mr Prasetyo said last September that 14 convicts would be put to death.

Source: The Australian, Amanda Hodge, April 22, 2016 (local time)

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