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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…

Cannes Festival entry focuses on Taiwan death penalty debate

A prize-winning Taiwanese film exploring the use of the death penalty will screen at the Cannes Film Festival later this month, adding to recent increased debate about the island's use of capital punishment.

Leon Lee's 23-minute film titled "The Day To Choose" puts its main character, a lawyer and strong opponent of the death penalty, in the difficult position of choosing how to punish the murderers of his wife.

Taiwan retains the death penalty despite calls to abolish it in line with international practice, but some have argued it is necessary in extreme cases such as the beheading of a four-year-old girl on a Taipei street in March.

Lee, a student in the German language department at Soochow University, developed the film with his producer Cheng Kuang-yu, based on a script that Cheng had long wanted to realize.

"What I really want to discuss in this short film is not only the issue of capital punishment, but how much a human will stick to (his or her ideals) when faced with adversity," Lee told Reuters on the set of the film.

The picture will screen in the short film corner at the prestigious annual Cannes festival in France on May 11-22 and has already won "Best Drama Short Film" at the 2016 Universe Multicultural Film Festival in California last month.

Source: Reuters, May 9, 2016

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