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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…

Nebraska: Death penalty debate heats up

Nebraskans will go to the polls four month from now and vote for an array of issues-one being whether or not to reinstate the death penalty in Nebraska.

The legislature voted 30-19 to repeal it in the Spring of 2015, but supporters of capital punishment were able to get enough signatures to get the issue on the November ballot.

"It's a very complicated system, the system is broken and it doesn't work," said Retain a Just Nebraska campaign manager Darold Bauer.

"The repeal of the death penalty was very unpopular across the state," said Rod Edwards, state director for Nebraskans for the Death Penalty.

Those for the death penalty say murder victim's families want justice.

"They want that just penalty for the people who killed their loved ones," said Edwards.

However the group Retain a Just Nebraska said the system doesn't work and actually harms murder victim's families.

"Eliminate years and years of appeals, and eliminate the possibility of executing an innocent person," said Bauer.

Both sides of this issue are now ramping up their campaigns this summer coordinating their army of volunteers and getting their message out.

"We are re-energizing those volunteers we are working with our Facebook followers to make sure they get the message out and working with those 166-thousands signature gathers to expand that to an electorate," said Edwards.

Even churches are getting involved-handing out materials urging their people to vote for a specific item. This past weekend, some parishioners likely saw a bit of politicking in the pews.

"We are getting help from a number of different churches and different denominations, we are not turning anyone away, if they believe what we do in eliminating the death penalty, we welcome their support," said Bauer.

"I don't know if we are going to intrude people's worship in church by passing out phamplets but I think that's crossing a bit of a line, but we are going to be actively engaging the public with a full-scale campaign," said Edwards.

Both campaigns will start airing ads on TV and radio soon.

The election is on November 8th.

To learn more about Retain a Just Nebraska click here: http://retainajustnebraska.com/

Source: KMTV news, July 6, 2016

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