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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: Castration, Death Penalty for Sex Offenders Face Mounting Opposition

Jakarta. Opposition is growing to the government's decision to impose tougher punishment, including chemical castration, on child sex offenders, a move observers have warned would fail to suppress such crimes and instead undermine human rights.

A government regulation in lieu of law, signed by President Joko Widodo on Wednesday (25/05), allows an additional penalty of chemical castration against pedophiles, serial rapists and those involved in gang rape, but not against underage perpetrators.

Offenders will also have to wear electronic devices after release from prison so authorities can track their movements. The regulation will soon be deliberated at the House of Representatives to revise the 2002 law on child protection.

The government has defended the regulation, which House leaders have hinted would get the nod from most lawmakers, saying it would set a deterrent for perpetrators, as well as effectively reduce what Jokowi has declared an "extraordinary crime."

However, observers have doubted the notion, pointing to several countries which allow castration as listed among the world's top offenders.

"The government's move is not based on rational arguments, but on emotional grounds," Supriyadi Eddyono, executive director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday.

Twenty countries offer castration for offenders, including Argentina, Denmark, Germany, England, Russia, Sweden and Poland.

Germany, England and Sweden were among the 10 countries with the world's highest rates of sex crimes in 2012, according to World Rape Statistic, while two years later, Germany and Sweden remained on the list alongside Argentina.

Observers have also warned against jeopardizing human rights with the use of chemical castration, saying it could be a form of degrading punishment.

Indonesia the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1998, but the government has yet to stipulate provisions in the convention under a specific law.

"Instead of proposing a better solution, the government has made a counterproductive move with the regulation," said Fajri Nursyamsi, head of the Indonesian Center for Law and Policy Studies.

The regulation also allows heavier punishment of the death penalty, life imprisonment, and a minimum of 10 years or a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The heightened punishment applies to perpetrators who should have been guardians of the victims, as well as those whose offenses pose severe impacts, ranging from heavy injuries to mental disorders and death.

The 2002 law on child protection was revised in 2014 to impose tougher penalties in expectation of reducing offenses.

"It answered its own question by saying Indonesia is instead in state of emergency over rampant child sex violence," Supriyadi said.

Mounting calls for the issuance of the regulation gained momentum earlier this month, when reports of the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl by 14 young men last month in Bengkulu gripped the nation.

The case followed a spate of headline-grabbing cases of violence against women and children in the past few years.

Source: Jakarta Globe, May 27, 2016


Chemical Castration Involves Female Hormone Injections: Health Minister

Jakarta. Health Minister Nila Moeloek has made it clear that chemical castration of male sex offenders involves injecting them with synthetic female hormones in order to reduce their virility.

A government regulation in lieu of law, signed by President Joko Widodo earlier this week, allows for the chemical castration of convicted pedophiles, serial rapists and those involved in gang rape. It excludes underage perpetrators.

Offenders will also have to wear electronic devices after their release from prison so authorities can track their movements. The regulation will soon be deliberated in the House of Representatives to revise the 2002 Child Protection Law.

Speaking to reporters in Jakarta on Friday (27/05), Nila explained that the chemical castration of sex male offenders is aimed at reducing their levels of testosterone, the hormone responsible for sex drive.

"It is about controlling the hormones of men and women. The female hormones will be injected into [male] sex offenders so that they will reach a [hormonal] balance," Nila told reporters after launching an anti-tobacco campaign.

"Their levels of manliness will be reduced. Their virility will decrease," Nila added.

However, chemical castration has been criticized by several human rights observers, who warned that it is a degrading form of punishment and that it is also a human rights violation.

"There are many pros and cons, but please don't just see it only from the offenders' point of view. Also try to consider the victims [of sexual assault]," the minister said.

Nila said it was not clear at this point who would be responsible for administering the female hormones to convicted sex offenders but that courts would likely compel doctors to do so, despite the fact that they may have taken the Hippocratic Oath.

Calls mounted for stricter punishment of sex offenders after reports of the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl by 14 young males in Bengkulu last month. The incident followed a spate of other headline-grabbing cases of violence against women and children over the past few years.

Source: Jakarta Globe, May 27, 2016

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