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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…

Pfizer Ban on Execution Drugs Won't Impede Death Penalty in Indiana

State's death row inmates still have years of appeals ahead; state has said it has stockpile of needed chemicals

The world's largest pharmaceutical company is blocking the use of its drugs for executions. But it's unclear how that will affect Indiana.

Pfizer was the last FDA-approved drugmaker which still sold the chemicals used for lethal injection. That's the only execution method allowed by Indiana law -- it would take legislative action to bring back the electric chair or some other method.

But Indiana said 2 years ago it had a stockpile of execution drugs, and the state hasn't executed anyone since. 

The Department of Correction said then it had even assisted other states who were having difficulty as the market tightened.

Some states have turned to less-regulated compounding pharmacies, or tried to import drugs from overseas.

Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Chairman Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) says at some point, legislators should probably authorize an alternate method. He says no one anticipated supply-chain problems when the state switched to lethal injection in 1995. But he says there's no rush. None of the 12 killers on Indiana's death row is anywhere close to an execution date -- only 2 have progressed as far as a federal appeals court. And Young says any attempt to tweak the law would likely trigger a fierce debate over whether Indiana should abolish the death penalty entirely.

Indiana hasn't executed anyone since 2009, when Matthew Wrinkles of Evansville was put to death for the murders of his wife and 2 of his in-laws.

Source: WIBC news, May 17, 2016

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