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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: Executions near as officials visit prison for final check

The execution of death row inmates looks to be near as officials from the Law and Human Rights Ministry visited the Nusakambangan prison Island in Central Java’s Cilacap regency on Tuesday.

The visit was aimed at checking the location to ensure everything was set for the executions to go ahead, said Molyanto, the ministry’s head for the penitentiary division in Central Java.

However, no details have been released on the impending executions.

"We also have not yet obtained the list of the names of the convicts who will be executed. We do not know their number either," Molyanto told thejakartapost.com on Thursday.

Previously, Central Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. A. Liliek Darmanto said at least 15 convicts, including 10 foreigners, would face the firing squad in the third round of executions of drug convicts.

The police had received the data, however they could not disclose the names of the convicts, as the authority to do so rested with the Attorney General's Office, Liliek said.

Central Java Police have prepared 180 Mobile Brigade (Brimob) personnel to carry out the executions.

Attorney General M. Prasetyo said the third round of executions was only a matter of choosing the day, as all the preparations had been completed.

Prior to the execution, authorities have tightened security on Indonesia's notorious Nusakambangan prison island. Prison authorities have installed CCTV around the prison complex, including at Wijayapura harbor, the only access port from Cilacap.

Moreover, authorities had assigned additional police personnel to guard more intensely each prison located in the Nusakambangan complex, Molyanto said on Monday.

"So we can carry out the planned execution smoothly," he told thejakartapost.com.

The installation of CCTV was to support the monitoring of inmates amid a lack of security personnel.

Around eight security personnel were guarding each of the seven prions on the island, Molyanto said, adding that the ideal number would be at least 15 guards to maintain security at each of the prisons that held up to 200 inmates each.

Nusakambangan has seven prisons standing 3 kilometers apart from each other. Around 1,250 inmates are detained in the complex, including 70 convicts of terrorism offenses and 62 death row convicts.

Source: Jakarta Post, Agus Maryono, May 13, 2016


Spiritual leaders prepared ahead of executions

Cilacap Police and Nusakambangan prison authorities have prepared spiritual leaders to be assigned to accompany death row inmates before and during their executions.

Cilacap Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Ulung Sampurna Jaya said some 15 death row inmates would be executed on the Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, in the near future and that police had appointed religious leaders to accompany the inmates.

“In principle, we have prepared everything needed for the execution of their death sentences at Nusakambangan, including the spiritual leaders,” Ulung told thejakartapost.com on Wednesday. He refused to mention the number of spiritual leaders readied, saying only that it corresponded to the number of inmates to be executed.

“Up untill now, the Cilacap Police have not yet received any official order on the implementation of the execution, including information on how many people will be executed. We are all still waiting for [the official order],” said Ulung.

Central Java Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Liliek Darmanto said 10 foreigners were on the list of convicts for the forthcoming round of executions at Nusakambangan, all convicted of drug crimes. Four of the inmates were from China, while the other six were from Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal and Zimbabwe.

“Five death row inmates are from Indonesia,” said Liliek.

Meanwhile, an Islamic teacher from the Cilacap chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council ( MUI ), Hasan Makarim, said the MUI had not received any government notification on the executions.

“Usually, an official religious assistance request comes after the death row inmates are put in isolation cells. That is the time we will start to prepare their mental readiness to embrace their execution, along with their faith and religion,” Hasan told thejakartapost.com.

Usually, he added, one spiritual leader would be prepared to accompany one inmate. “We are intensely coordinating with the police and prison authorities, so that once it is needed, we are ready,” Hasan said.

The Attorney General’s Office ( AGO ) has announced that the third round of executions under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration would be held in the near future.

The AGO conducted two rounds of executions in 2015. Six people were executed in January 2015 and another eight in late April 2015.

Source: Jakarta Post, Agus Maryono, May 13, 2016

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