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Capital Punishment in the United States Explained

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In our Explainer series, Fair Punishment Project lawyers help unpackage some of the most complicated issues in the criminal justice system. We break down the problems behind the headlines - like bail, civil asset forfeiture, or the Brady doctrine - so that everyone can understand them. Wherever possible, we try to utilize the stories of those affected by the criminal justice system to show how these laws and principles should work, and how they often fail. We will update our Explainers monthly to keep them current. Read our updated explainer here.
To beat the clock on the expiration of its lethal injection drug supply, this past April, Arkansas tried to execute 8 men over 1 days. The stories told in frantic legal filings and clemency petitions revealed a deeply disturbing picture. Ledell Lee may have had an intellectual disability that rendered him constitutionally ineligible for the death penalty, but he had a spate of bad lawyers who failed to timely present evidence of this claim -…

Australia insists alleged cyanide-coffee murderer will not face death penalty

AFP
Jakarta: Australia insists an Australian permanent resident charged with murdering her friend with cyanide-laced coffee will not face the death penalty in Indonesia if found guilty, despite police now claiming it is up to the judges.

Jessica Kumala Wongso, a former Ambulance NSW employee, has been charged with the premeditated murder of her friend Wayan Mirna Salihin, with whom she had studied in Australia.

The allegations that Ms Wongso spiked her friend's Vietnamese iced coffee at an upmarket cafe in Jakarta have gripped Indonesia, with TV talk shows endlessly debating the likelihood of her guilt.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan agreed to allow the Australian Federal Police to assist with investigating the case after receiving an assurance that the death penalty would neither be sought or carried out.

"After the guarantee, approval was given and now we have started cooperating with the AFP," Jakarta police chief detective Krishna Murti told Fairfax Media in February.

Last week prosecutors finally announced the case would proceed to trial after the case dossier had been returned to police at least four times due to a lack of evidence.

Jakarta police spokesman Awi Setiyono said it would be up to the judges what punishment would be imposed if Ms Wongso was found guilty, with the death penalty the maximum sentence for premeditated murder.

Asked about Indonesia's agreement with Australia that the death penalty would not be invoked, Mr Awi said: "It is impossible to give such a guarantee because no one can intervene with the judges."

When Fairfax Media told Mr Awi that chief detective Krishna said the Indonesian Attorney-General's office had guaranteed the death penalty would not be sought, Mr Awi said: "Even the president cannot say that, let alone Krishna Murti. Look, it is not certain that she will get the death penalty, the trial hasn't even started. Just wait and we will see what the judges decide."

However Fairfax Media understands the Australian government has a ministerial-level, written undertaking that Ms Wongso will not face the death penalty.


Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfield and Karuni Rompies, May 30, 2016

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