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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…

Indonesia: Convicted Filipina drug mule Mary Jane Veloso pleads for help from Duterte

Mary Jane Veloso
Mary Jane Veloso
"I know you have a good heart. You are a parent as well. Even if my family is poor, I will not be involved in illegal drugs. Even if they put me behind bars. I cannot accept these accusations because I am innocent. I am innocent. I am innocent."

These were the words of Mary Jane Veloso as she begged for the assistance of President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday through a recorded voice message from her family on July 31.

The 31-year-old Cabanatuan native is currently on death row in Indonesia on drug trafficking charges. She was scheduled to be executed in April last year but was granted a reprieve following an international outcry to spare her life.

As evidenced by her cracking voice, the sobbing Veloso pleaded for her freedom from the president, who is notorious for his approach in eradicating the illegal drug trade in the country.

"Beloved President of the Philippines. This is Mary Jane," the former domestic helper said in her plea.

"I've been suffering here in Indonesia for too long. I've had to endure a lot in my life and despite being poor, I am a God-fearing person," she said.

The past administration's efforts to bargain for Veloso's freedom have remained futile, and she hopes to be free with Duterte's help.

"You're my only hope, dear President. I know you're the only one who could help me," she said.

"I know a lot of people still believe and support me, but you know it works differently here. I need justice, and I badly need it now. I'm begging you," she further said.

Despite being detained since 2010, Veloso remained hopeful that she would receive pardon for a crime she said she didn't commit.

"Even if many doubt my innocence, God won't forget me. He sees everything I'm doing; He knows I've done no wrong," she said.

The president has yet to release a statement on Veloso's plea.

Source: The Jakarta Post, Sept. 3, 2016

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