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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…

Taiwan not about to replace death penalty with life imprisonment: Ma

President Ma Ying-jeou
President Ma Ying-jeou
President Ma Ying-jeou said Monday that although some countries in the world have replaced the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole, Taiwan is not thinking of following suit.

The president was responding to a question on the death penalty issue, during a news conference on the release of the second national report on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

According to Ma, replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment without possibility of parole has given rise to many problems.

For example, the public might find it hard to accept the idea of the country providing lifelong support for people convicted of serious crimes, he said, adding that prison population management can be another problem.

Furthermore, putting criminals in prison for the rest of their lives is no less harmful to human rights than executing them, Ma said.

Based on these reasons, the Ministry of Justice is not considering replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole, he added.

He said the government's current policy is to keep the death penalty but use it judiciously.

Over the past 20 years, Taiwan has abolished all the laws that prescribed the death sentence as the sole penalty and has been reviewing those laws that maintain it as an optional penalty, Ma noted.

Judges and prosecutors have also been very cautious in handling cases in which the death penalty is applicable, he said.

As a result, Ma said, the number of people sentenced to death has dropped to 6 per year on average from a high of 18 per year in the past.

People in Taiwan cannot yet accept the idea of removing the death penalty from the law books, the president said, adding that abolition of capital punishment is not yet a global trend either.

Although the United Nations has adopted several resolutions calling on states that maintain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on its use, the countries that retain capital punishment still account for 60 % of the world's population, Ma said.

Source: focustaiwan.tw, April 25, 2016

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