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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…

Pyongyang imposes death penalty for dealers in drugs and South Korean videos

Pyongyang
Pyongyang street
North Korea is executing people who distribute illegal drugs and South Korean videos, says the Korea Institute for National Unification.

The institute published "North Korean Human Rights Report 2016" on Monday after conducting in-depth interviews with 186 North Korean defectors who came to South Korea from the end of 2014 to last year.

According to the report, three North Koreans including a Hyesan University of Agriculture and Forestry student were shot dead in Hyesan, Yanggang Province in 2013 because they distributed drugs and South Korean videos.

2 men were also executed at Hyesan airport in 2014 after being charged with smuggling drugs and watching South Korean dramas. 

The defectors said 11 people had been sentenced to death for the same offences since 2011.

North Koreans did not face the death penalty just for distributing South Korean TV programs. 

However, they were sentenced to death when police caught them dealing in or buying illegal drugs as well as the videos.

The institute said illegal drugs were widely distributed in North Korea. 

Because of the growing number of cases involving drug dealing and distribution of South Korean videos, North Korean authorities had recently launched a crackdown and introduced severe punishment.

Source: Korea Times, April 26, 2016

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