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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…

Saudi executes 2 murder convicts, raises number of death sentences to 107

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi Arabia on Monday executed 2 convicted murderers, the interior ministry said, raising to 107 the number of death sentences carried out in the kingdom this year.

Fahd al-Ishan was convicted of stabbing to death another Saudi citizen, the ministry said in a statement on the official SPA news agency. He was executed in the northern Jawf region.

Authorities executed another Saudi citizen, Mohammed al-Shahrani, in the southwestern region of Assir after he was convicted of shooting dead another Saudi national, the ministry said in another statement.

The kingdom on Sunday carried out the death penalty against 4 citizens convicted of murder. Most people executed are beheaded with a sword.

Saudi Arabia's growing use of the death penalty has prompted Amnesty International to call for an "immediate" moratorium on the practice.

The kingdom imposes the death penalty for offences including murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy.

The London-based watchdog's Middle East and North Africa head Philip Luther has warned that "at this rate, the Kingdom's executioners will soon match or exceed the number of people they put to death last year."

Amnesty says the kingdom carried out at least 158 death sentences in 2015, making it the third most prolific executioner after Iran and Pakistan. Amnesty's figures do not include secretive China.

Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of Saudi executions, although 47 people were put to death for "terrorism" offences on a single day in January.

Source: The Express Tribune, July 25, 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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