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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…

Turkey: Erdogan warns EU he will sign death penalty law if approved by parliament

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday warned the European Union he would sign a law bringing back the death penalty if it was approved by parliament.

“Democracy, it’s respecting the people’s will,” Erdogan said in a speech in Istanbul.

“If the people say ‘we want the death penalty’… and this goes to parliament and parliament passes it and it comes to me, I declare I will approve this,” he added.

Erdogan was speaking hours after he had rattled Europe by threatening to open Turkey’s borders to allow migrants to reach the EU, in a move that would tear up a landmark deal signed in March that has reduced the refugee flow.

He made his remarks in response to the cheering crowds’ chants of “we want the death penalty”, an oft-repeated call during his rallies since the July 15 failed coup.

“When you want the death penalty, the gentlemen are uncomfortable,” he said, apparently referring to EU officials.

Erdogan said that if he signed the death penalty back into law, it would likely be blocked by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), but this did not concern him.

“I say, it doesn’t bother me. Because the European Court of Human Rights gives a lot of decisions, we know it very well… this people’s will, yes this is a will that must be respected by everyone.”

EU officials have repeatedly made clear that bringing back the death penalty would end Turkey’s bid for membership, which sets abolishing capital punishment as a condition.

Turkey completely abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of its accession process.

The move meant the 1999 death sentence for Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan was commuted to life behind bars.

No judicial executions have taken place in the country since left-wing militant Hidir Aslan was hanged on October 25, 1984 in the wake of the 1980 military coup.

Source: Agence France-Presse, November 25, 2016

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