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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 sets up firing squads for new executions that could include Lindsay Sandiford

Lindsay Sandiford (center) in Bali's Kerobokan prison
Lindsay Sandiford (center) in Bali's Kerobokan prison
Indonesian police have set up "several" firing squads ready for deployment to a notorious prison island as the country finalises preparations for a fresh wave of executions of drug smugglers.

2 British death row inmates, including grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, could be among the next batch of prisoners tied to a stake and executed.

Commander Aloys Darmanto, the Central Java police spokesman, said on Tuesday that the provincial mobile brigade unit has established several firing squads to be sent when needed to Nusakambangan prison island.

A larger execution ground is also reported to have been prepared as Indonesia is expected to press ahead "within weeks" with putting drug traffickers to death, after a 1-year hiatus.

"Everyone is ready, including prison officials," he told the Jakarta Globe.

It was on Nusakambangan last April that 14 convicts were executed, including 2 Australians, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were leaders of the Bali 9 drug trafficking ring.

"All firing squads from the mobile brigade unit are preparing themselves for the execution," Cdr Aloys said. "We are just waiting for further instructions from the Attorney General."

He refused to reveal how many firing squad members have been trained as that might indicate how many inmates will be executed.

"1 team will consist of 7 to 8 shooters," the officer said. "The number will be adjusted later."

Muhammad Prasetyo, the attorney general, said in April that the next round of executions would be carried out "soon" and that the inmates would include some foreigners currently on death row. Executions could be implemented any time from June, diplomats believe.

David Cameron and Joko Widodo in London
David Cameron and Joko Widodo in London
Sandiford, a grandmother from Cheltenham caught trying to smuggle cocaine into Bali in 2013, is the most high profile foreigner on death row.

A fellow Briton, Gareth Cashmore, 36, was sentenced to death in 2012, a year after he was initially given a punishment of life imprisonment when crystal meth was found in his luggage.

Joko Widodo, the president, ordered the re-implementation of the death penalty after he was elected in 2014, saying that the "war on drugs" was a national priority.

Mr Widodo recently toured Europe, including a two-day stop in London for meetings with David Cameron focused on lucrative trade deals. Mr Cameron raised Sandiford's fate when he visited Jakarta last year, but it was not clear whether he mentioned the cases of the Britons at their latest meeting.

The Indonesian leader seems certain not be influenced by public international condemnation after forging ahead with last year's executions despite outrage in Australia.

On the German leg of his European tour, he described drug trafficking as "national emergency" after Chancellor Angela Merkel talked of her country's opposition to capital punishment.

The Diplomat, a regional news website, reported that Luhut Pandjaitan, the country's security chief, wants to ensure the next round of executions are completed with less "commotion" than last year.

Source: telegraph.co.uk, May 3, 2016

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