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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Indonesia: 15 Drug Convicts to be Executed This Month

LP Prison on Nusakambangan Island, Central Java.
LP Prison on Nusakambangan Island, Central Java.
Fifteen drug convicts on death row, including 10 foreigners, will face firing squads at an unspecified date in mid May, a spokesman for Central Java police told BenarNews on Tuesday.

The executions would be the first since eight mostly foreign drug convicts were executed in April 2015 amid a diplomatic uproar involving Indonesia, Australia and Brazil.

The executions would also be third round carried out under the administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo since he took office in October 2014.

Officials from Joko’s administration could not be reached on Tuesday for confirmation about the new round of executions.

The 15 convicts include four Chinese nationals, two Nigerians, two Senegalese, one Pakistani and a citizen of Zimbabwe, Central Java Police spokesman Aloysius Liliek Darmanto said.

“Five are Indonesian citizens while 10 are foreigners,” Liliek told BenarNews.

“The Indonesians are four men and one woman,” he said, declining to name all 15 convicts.

Central Java Police have 180 personnel prepared to serve as members of firing squads, he added.

“However, the executioners have not been dispatched to Nusakambangan as they still wait for instructions from the attorney general,” Liliek said, referring to a penal island off the southern coast of Central Java that is home to Indonesia’s highest security prison.

Eight drug convicts, including two Australians, a Brazilian and two Nigerians, were put to death there on April 29, 2015. Personnel were sent to the island about 72 hours before the executions.

On Jan. 18, 2015, six other drug convicts were executed in Boyolali, Central Java.

If the Nusakambangan procedure is followed, security will be tightened around the Wijaya Pier at Cilacap port, the closest port to the island.

Transferred to Nusakambangan

Over the past two weeks, four drug convicts on death row were transferred to Nusakambangan, but the prison’s coordinator said he did not know if the transfers were related to possible executions.

“All are under the authority of the attorney general, our duty is only to accommodate,” Abdul Haris told BenarNews.

Indonesian Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo could not be reached for comment.

Previously, he told reporters that the government did not want to release specific details about the executions to avoid violent protests.

Following the April 2015 executions, the Jokowi administration was criticized by Australia and Brazil for carrying them out.

Australia recalled its ambassador to Indonesia after two of its citizens, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were among the eight who were shot.

‘Not the answer’

Welcome to Nusakambangan Island!
The Jakarta Post in January quoted the attorney general as saying that the death sentences were needed against drug offenders as “shock therapy against serious crime.”

Jokowi used a similar phrase in December 2014 to describe executions in combating drug offenses.

Human rights groups in Indonesia, however, are protesting the possible executions.

Al Araf, the director of Imparsial, a Jakarta -based rights group, said Jokowi had failed in his electoral campaign promise known as Nawa Cita (nine priorities for a better Indonesia).

“Nawa Cita focuses on the respect of human rights. If the execution is conducted, it means the government is not consistent,” he told BenarNews.

“In my opinion, the death penalty should be removed completely. Why don’t we encourage a more civilized law? The law is supposed to humanize people and correct mistakes,” he added.

Meanwhile, Haris Azhar, the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (KontraS), said Indonesia’s policy of capital punishment needed to be re-examined.

“Drug crimes involve a lot of people. Punishments cannot be imposed on one or two people who get caught,” Haris told BenarNews.

He said the government should reveal large networks behind drug trafficking in Indonesia, no matter who is exposed.

Haris’s colleague, Puri Kencana Putri, said executions had no deterrent effect or effect in reducing drug-related crimes. Data from the National Narcotics Agency in 2015 said that the number of drug addicts increased to 5.9 million people from the previous year.

“That’s the proof,” she told BenarNews. “The death penalty is not the answer. It should be abolished.”

Source: BenarNews, May 10, 2016

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