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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…

Indonesia: Absence of interpreters causes problems for foreign defendants

Indonesia: Absence of interpreters causes problems for foreign defendants
The Indonesian justice system often fails to protect the rights of foreign defendants, particularly the right to be accompanied by an interpreter during legal processes, an activist has said.

The absence of interpreters is a serious matter, particularly for defendants accused of committing serious crimes who could face heavy sentences, including the death penalty, Indonesian Judicial Watch Society researcher Anugerah Rizki Akbari said on Thursday.

He gave an example of Filipino suspect Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, who was on death row in 2015.

“Mary was given an English interpreter during trials when she actually needed a Tagalog interpreter,” Rizki said at the Celebrating Life event held at Plaza Indonesia shopping mall on Thursday.

Indonesia halted the execution of Veloso after the Attorney General’s Office last year received information suggesting she was a victim of human trafficking. Her execution was postponed, pending legal processes in the Philippines.

A similar situation occurred in 2002 when Nonthanam M. Saicon, a Thai national, was sentenced to death for smuggling narcotics, Rizki said.

In a court hearing for a judicial review this year, the Supreme Court decided to reduce Nonthanam’s sentence from the death penalty to life in prison because the Tangerang District Court had failed to provide a Thai interpreter during the trial.

The Supreme Court believed she could not fully understand the indictment against her, so justices reduced her sentence.

Source: Jakarta Post, Callistasia Anggun Wijaya, September 8, 2016

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