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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…

New Philippine Congress opens with death penalty at top of agenda

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte
The newly convened Philippine Congress heard a proposal on Tuesday to re-impose the death penalty for "heinous crimes", giving priority to President Rodrigo Duterte's push for capital punishment in its first legislative session.

The death penalty bill was received the same day Duterte took office on June 30, and it cites illicit sales and use of drugs as the root cause of "the most perverse and atrocious crimes".

Introduced by two lawmakers, including a house speaker allied with Duterte, the bill cites the need for a war on crime and argues that existing laws were not a deterrent and had "emasculated" the criminal justice system.

The death penalty was repealed in 2006 following pressure from church groups.

The bill comes as Duterte's war on crime is in full swing, with at least 200 people killed in the past month, according to police, who say many of the deaths are the work of vigilantes.

Other estimates of the body count are far higher and human rights groups are outraged.

Duterte's vow to wipe out crime and drugs by the end of the year resonated among millions of Filipinos when he campaigned for election on threats to kill drug dealers who refused to surrender and dump their bodies in Manila Bay.

He will not get everything his way, however, with the bill calling for lethal injection as a method of administering the punishment. Duterte had called for death by hanging, which he described graphically during speeches.

Source: Reuters, July 26, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

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