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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…

Federal Judge OKs Louisiana’s Request For No Executions Until At Least 2018

Louisiana's death chamber
Louisiana's death chamber
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday approved Louisiana officials’ request that a stay on executions in the state be extended into 2018.

The delay was approved by U.S. District Court Judge James J. Brady in ongoing litigation brought by two death row inmates, Jessie Hoffman and Christopher Sepulvado.

The state had filed the unopposed request earlier in the day on Tuesday. Although Brady’s approval of the order is dated Tuesday, it was not posted on the court’s docket until Wednesday.

Prior to this week’s order, all proceedings in the case had been on hold through July 11, 2016.

“Counsel were in agreement that a continuance of the stay for another year was appropriate,” attorneys for the state wrote. However, “given that a twelve month stay would put all parties back in the position of dealing with a legislative session and possible conflicts resulting from same, it would be prudent to extend the stay for eighteen months or until approximately January 8, 2018.”

Brady granted the request, extending the stay through Jan. 8, 2018, on which date he scheduled a status conference in the case.

The lawsuit, initially brought in 2012, has been on hold since early 2014, with the stay of the case having been extended several times. In January 2014, Brady had denied the state’s motion to dismiss the case, holding that Hoffman and Sepulvado stated several claims in their complaint that, while they might not ultimately succeed, are “plausible on its face.” Brady allowed Eighth Amendment and equal protection claims brought by the inmates regarding the state’s lethal injection protocol and a claim seeking protections giving them access to the courts to proceed to trial.

Louisiana has only held two executions in the past 15 years, the most recent in 2010. As of Jan. 1, however, the state had more than 80 people on death row.

While the case currently only includes two of those people, others could join the challenge if the state attempted to set an execution date for them.

Source: Buzzfeed, June 2, 2016

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