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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…

Sri Lankan President commutes death sentences of 83 inmates

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has decided to commute the death sentences of 83 prisoners who are either on death row or serving life imprisonments. [sic]

President Sirisena has taken the decision to spare the lives of the prisoners based on the recommendations made by a committee appointed following a request by the joint committee of the Ministries of Law and Order and Prisons Reforms and Justice to review the death sentences, reports Lanka Page.

The Commissioner General of Prisons Nishan Danasinghe said they expect more death row inmates to receive the same concession in future.

Although Sri Lankan courts give death penalty in serious crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking, no executions have been carried out since 1976.

All death penalty cases have been commuted to life in prison.

Sri Lanka last year decided to vote in favor of a UN resolution for moratorium on death penalty.

Source: Business Standard, April 26, 2016

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