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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…

Australian Damian John Berg arrested on drugs charges in Philippines as nation prepares to bring in the death penalty

Philippine National Police officers
Philippine National Police officers
An Austalian arrested for selling ecstasy in the Philippines may fall afoul of 'shoot-to-kill' president-elect Rodrigo Duterte's promise to impose the death penalty on all drug crimes.

Damian John Berg and Canadian national Jeremy Eaton were arrested yesterday after being linked by Philippines police to a drug syndicate importing prohibited substances from Europe.

Philippines police allege the pair were selling ecstasy at a youth concert in Manila last month where 5 party-goers died of drug overdose.

It's a tough time to run afoul of the law in the Philippines.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has vowed he will put snipers in the streets, insisting his citizens must learn to fear the law - even smoking bans.

The 71-year-old, due to be sworn-in on June 30, says his goal is to 'end crime' within 3 to 6 months of taking office.

Capital punishment is to be applied to crimes involving murder, robbery, rape or drugs.

Other laws - as diverse as children being found walking on the streets at night - will be given much harsher penalties. In this example, parents will be jailed for 'abandonment'.

"If you resist, show violent resistance, my order to police will be to shoot to kill," he reiterated last month. "Shoot to kill for organised crime. You heard that? Shoot to kill for every organised crime."

Duterte, dubbed 'The Punisher', has previously said it does not concern him if this involves the deaths of tens of thousands of criminals.

"I expect you to obey the laws so there will be no chaos. I will hit hard on drugs and I promise them (law-breakers) hell," Duterte said.

"What I will do is urge Congress to restore the death penalty by hanging."

Duterte said he wanted hanging as a firing squad was 'a waste of bullets'.

He also plans to put the military on Philippines streets to enforce his will.

"I need the military to pitch. I need military officers who are sharpshooters and snipers. It's true. If you fight, I will have a sniper shoot you," he said.

High on his agenda are new laws to stamp-out drinking and smoking in public.

He says one of his first acts will be to extend local bylaws imposing a 2am curfew on drinking and smoking in his city of Davao to the whole nation.

This includes restaurants and hotels.

As Mayor, Duterte has been accused of organising vigilante squad to impose a rule of fear over the city of Davao. He boasted during the election campaign that he was behind the deaths of 1000 people - though he also intermittently denied the allegation.

Source: news.com.au, June 22, 2016

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