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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…

Vietnam: Thai woman, 3 Vietnamese sentenced to death for drug trafficking

Hanoi, Vietnam
Hanoi, Vietnam
A court in Hanoi sentenced 3 Vietnamese and a Thai woman to death on Monday for drug trafficking.

Investigation found Nguyen Thi Thuy Trang, 53, from Ho Chi Minh City, learned about the illegal trade in late 2011 and started hiring several people to help her transport drugs across regional borders.

Police in Hanoi, Quang Ninh Province and HCMC busted the ring in October 2012, seizing 24 kilograms of heroin and more than 2 kilograms of methamphetamine.

They arrested Trang and 3 of her smugglers Le Xuan Phu, Phan Thi Lien, and Pornpirom Upapong from Thailand, local media reported.

The members told police Trang was the mastermind and hired them to transport drugs across regional countries including China, Cambodia, Nigeria, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Police said the gang also hired some Africans who used money to lure poor Vietnamese women, who had little knowledge about drug laws, into the illegal business.

They are still looking for these suspects.

Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws. The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is punishable by death.

Those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine also face the death penalty.

Source: Thanh Nien News, April 26, 2016

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