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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…

Antigua & Barbuda: UN wants death penalty off the books

Antigua & Barbuda
Antigua & Barbuda
Several countries at the United Nations (UN) have recommended that the government of Antigua & Barbuda establish a formal moratorium on capital punishment.

The recommendations, which came from among approximately 44 country representatives at the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR), continued despite the representatives being advised that a de facto moratorium has existed since the 1990s.

The 1st representative to raise the matter was from Australia. "Establish a formal moratorium on the death penalty with a view to ratifying the second optional protocol to the international covenant on civil and political rights," she advised.

Many other countries followed suit. Panama's representative said, "Consider establishing an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty ..." while another Latin American country, Honduras, advised the same.

The United Kingdom's (UK) representative said, " ... respect national legal procedures and the standards required by the Privy Council and the UN for the protection of the rights of prisoners sentenced to death."

In response, Antigua & Barbuda's representative at the review, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Senator, Maureen Payne-Hyman, assured the group that in practice a moratorium exists.

"With the issue of the death penalty, that's a very touchy and vexing issue in the Caribbean. In Antigua, it does not matter what type of crime you've committed, you're not executed," she said.

Portugal responded by advising that the government abolish capital punishment "both in practice and in law." Many similar recommendations followed.

The UPR is conducted on the human right records of all UN member states. The latest review was Antigua & Barbuda's 2nd. The 1st review was conducted in 2011.

Superintendent of Her Majesty's Prison (HMP) Albert Wade confirmed that there are no inmates awaiting the execution of a sentence of death or "on death row" as any such inmates were ordered to be re-sentenced by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Source: Antigua Observer, May 10, 2016

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