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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

California Supreme Court halts voter-approved death penalty measure

San Quentin Prison's death row
San Quentin Prison's death row
The California Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a voter-approved measure intended to speed up the appeals process for the state's death row inmates to give it time to consider a lawsuit challenging the measure.

In a one-page decision, the court stayed the "implementation of all provisions of Proposition 66" and set a timeline for filing briefs in the case.

Proposition 66 would change how appeals are handled, appointing more lawyers to take cases, putting certain types of appeals before trial court judges and setting a five-year deadline for appeals to be heard. 

Currently, it can take longer than that for an attorney to be assigned to a case and upward of 25 years to exhaust appeals.

The lawsuit by former California Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp and Ron Briggs, whose father wrote the ballot measure that expanded California's death penalty in 1978, said the reform measure would disrupt the courts, cost more money and limit the ability to mount proper appeals.

They said the deadlines would set "an inordinately short timeline for the courts to review those complex cases" and result in attorneys cutting corners in their investigations.

Supporters of the measure have called the lawsuit a frivolous stall tactic.

California voters faced two death penalty measures in the November election. They rejected a measure that would have abolished the death penalty and narrowly approved Proposition 66.

Source: Associated Press, December 20, 2016

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