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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…

China "strictly controls death penalty:" white paper

Rehearsing execution procedure in China
Rehearsing execution procedure in China
BEIJING, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- China strictly controls the death penalty and employs it with prudence, said a white paper on judical protection of human rights issued on Monday.

The white paper, titled "New Progress in the Judicial Protection of Human Rights in China," said China's stand on the death penalty is to ensure that it applies only to a very small number of extremely serious criminal offenders.

China in 2011 adopted the Amendment (VIII) to the Criminal Law which abolishes the death penalty for 13 economy-related, non-violent offenses.

The Amendment (IX) to the Criminal Law, adopted in 2015, also reduced the number of crimes for capital punishment, abolishing the death penalty for nine areas of crime. It also extended the possibility of reprieve in cases of capital sentence.

In death penalty cases, the defendant's right to defense and other legitimate rights and interests are fully protected, as hearings are held for all death penalty cases of second instance, the white paper said.

When the Supreme People's Court reviews a death penalty case, it focuses on interrogating the defendant in accordance with the law, and listening to opinions of the defense counsel, according to the white paper.

It also said China took special actions against human trafficking and made important progress in combating trafficking in women and children.

A mechanism for quickly searching for missing children has been put in place around the country, under which police resources are fully mobilized to quickly find missing children, it said.

A uniform operation of thorough search and investigation for children of unknown origin has been carried out nationwide, in which DNA information of children suspected of being the victims of abduction is collected and recorded into a national DNA database for comparison.

Source: Xinhua, Sept. 12, 2016

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