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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…

4 more prisoners hanged in Iran

Iran's fundamentalist regime is continuing its heightening execution spree, hanging at least 4 more prisoners in the past 3 days.

Earlier on Saturday 3 prisoners were hanged in the Central Prison of Rasht, northern Iran, according to the regime's judiciary in Gilan Province. The victims were identified only by their initials and ages: A. A., 22; E. Sh., 26; and H. P., 31.

On Thursday, Behnam Mohammadi, 35, was hanged in Maragheh Prison, north-west Iran, after serving 5 years behind bars. He was accused of a drugs-related charge.

The latest hangings bring to at least 76 the number of people executed in Iran since April 10. 3 of those executed were women and 1 is believed to have been a juvenile offender.

Iran's fundamentalist regime on Monday amputated the fingers of a man in his thirties in the city of Mashhad, north-east Iran, the latest in a line of draconian punishments handed down and carried out in recent weeks.

The state-run Khorasan newspaper identified the victim by his initials M. T., adding that he was 39 years old. The prisoner was accused of theft and is also serving a 3-year jail sentence.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said in a statement on April 13 that the increasing trend of executions "aimed at intensifying the climate of terror to rein in expanding protests by various strata of the society, especially at a time of visits by high-ranking European officials, demonstrates that the claim of moderation is nothing but an illusion for this medieval regime."

Amnesty International in its April 6 annual Death Penalty report covering the 2015 period wrote: "Iran put at least 977 people to death in 2015, compared to at least 743 the year before."

"Iran alone accounted for 82% of all executions recorded" in the Middle East and North Africa, the human rights group said.

There have been more than 2,300 executions during Hassan Rouhani's tenure as President. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran in March announced that the number of executions in Iran in 2015 was greater than any year in the last 25 years. Rouhani has explicitly endorsed the executions as examples of "God's commandments" and "laws of the parliament that belong to the people."

Source: NCR-Iran, May 15, 2016

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