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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…

UN human rights chief bucks capital punishment

UN building, NYC
The United Nations human rights chief is opposing the imposition of capital punishment in all circumstances, saying death penalty is "not an effective deterrent" to crime and does not protect people from drug abuse.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein was reacting to the execution of four convicted drug traffickers in Indonesia last Friday.

Convicted Filipina drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso was spared because the Philippine government under former president Benigno Aquino III asked that she be allowed to testify against Maria Kristina Sergio, who allegedly recruited her and tricked her into smuggling 2.6 kg of heroin into Indonesia.

But the new Philippine administration under President Duterte has expressed conviction that death penalty can be used to stop illegal drug trade in the country.

Al Hussein said the focus of drug-related crime prevention should involve strengthening the justice system to make it more effective.

He also called on authorities of "the most prolific executioner" in Southeast Asia to immediately reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty.

"The increasing use of the death penalty in Indonesia is terribly worrying, and I urge the government to immediately end this practice which is unjust and incompatible with human rights," he said.

"I find it deeply disturbing that Indonesia has already executed 19 people since 2013, making it the most prolific executioner in Southeast Asia," he added.

Al Hussein noted that under international law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Indonesia has ratified, countries which have not abolished the death penalty may only use capital punishment for "the most serious crimes."

He pointed out that drug-related offenses do not fall under this threshold of "most serious crimes," which have been interpreted to mean only crimes involving intentional killing.

He said that while he acknowledges the challenges faced by Indonesia in combating drug-related crimes, the country's response must be rooted in international human rights law.

Philippines death penalty bill

Meanwhile, the death penalty bill in the House of Representatives faces rough sailing as opposition congressmen are determined to block its passage.

"We will fight tooth and nail any and all attempts to renew the death penalty and send us back to the medieval ages," Rep. Lito Atienza of party-list group Buhay said yesterday.

He said he and his pro-life colleagues would argue doggedly against any measure that seeks to re-impose capital punishment.

Another opposition lawmaker, Harry Roque of Kabayan, said he, like Atienza, is against the revival of the death penalty.

"What we need to do is to reform the criminal justice system," he said.

The 2 belong to the opposition bloc led by Minority Leader Danilo Suarez.

Ironically, Suarez is supporting President Duterte's proposal for re-imposition of the death penalty.

Source: Philippine Star, July 31, 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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