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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…

Mapped: The 58 countries that still have the death penalty

Our recent round-up of interesting facts about Belarus - published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union - unearthed some remarkable things.

The country is the booziest on Earth, it gave us Viber, and is home to some of the continent's last remaining bison. It is also the only nation in Europe that retains the death penalty.

As the map on the left shows, every other European country has abolished it (Russia has abolished it in practice, and has not executed anyone since 1996). 

But in Belarus - often dubbed "Europe's last dictatorship" - it continues, with 12 executions taking place in the last seven years and more than 200 since 1990. 


Just four countries considered to be industrialised still execute criminals: 

  • The US
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan 

The most recent countries to abolish all capital punishment are:

  • Guinea (2016)
  • Nauru (2016)
  • Congo (2015)
  • Suriname (2015)
  • Fiji (2015)
  • Madagascar (2012)
  • Latvia (2012)
  • Gabon (2010)

The 58 countries that have the death penalty

  • Botswana
  • Chad
  • Comoros
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Lesotho
  • Libya
  • Nigeria
  • Somalia
  • Somaliland
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Cuba
  • Dominica
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States
  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • North Korea
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Malaysia
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Territories
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • UAE
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Belarus


Total executions in 2015


According to Amnesty International, 25 countries carried out at least 1,630 executions last year.

Nineteen Asian countries:

  • Afghanistan (1)
  • Bangladesh (4)
  • China (exact number unknown)
  • India (1)
  • Indonesia (14)
  • Iran (977+)
  • Iraq (26+)
  • Japan (3)
  • Jordan (2)
  • Malaysia (exact number unknown)
  • North Korea (exact number unknown)
  • Oman (2)
  • Pakistan (326)
  • Saudi Arabia (158+)
  • Singapore (4)
  • Taiwan (6)
  • UAE (1)
  • Vietnam (exact number unknown)
  • Yemen (8+)

Five African countries:

  • Chad (10)
  • Egypt (22+)
  • Somalia (25+)
  • South Sudan (5+)
  • Sudan (3)

One American country: 

  • United States (28)

Source: The Telegraph, Oliver Smith, Travel, Maps and graphics, Sept. 1, 2016

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