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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Philippines: Hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection pondered as execution methods

Police officers, Philippines
Lawmakers are up for more discussions when it comes to passing the proposed death penalty bill in Congress.

One part of that bill is the mode of execution to the person convicted of a heinous crime.

Under the bill, death penalty may be executed either by hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection.

It also states that the death penalty shall be carried out from 1 year to 1 1/2 years after the judgment has become final and executory.

Lawmakers want capital punishment for a number of drug offenses.

Under the proposed bill reviving the death penalty, selling, trading, distributing, and transporting of dangerous drugs, regardless of quantity and purity, and manufacturing dangerous drugs may be punishable by death.

Any person who possesses at least 10 grams of any dangerous drugs or 500 grams of marijuana may be punished by death.

Any person - including foreigners - who brings in illegal drugs into the country, regardless of quantity and purity, may also be executed.

Lawmakers also want death for other non-drug related crimes such as kidnapping, and murder.

Any person who kills because of a price or a reward, kills during calamities, or kills with cruelty are also candidates for the execution chamber.

Rape may also be punished by death - but it still depends on how and when it happened.

Even public officials are not spared from the death penalty.

A public officer proven to have committed plunder or amassing ill-gotten wealth amounting to 50P million or more may be punished with death.

Qualified bribery or refusing to arrest or prosecute an offender after being given or receiving a gift may also be punishable by death.

Limiting death penalty to drug-related offenses, a weak law


Majority Leader Rudy Farinas said some lawmakers want to limit the death penalty to drug-related cases.

Anti-crime group Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC), however, do not agree to proposed limitations to the bill.

"Hindi maganda yan. That will be tantamount to selective masyado," VACC President Dante Jimenez said. "Kung illegal drugs lang iyan, ay napakalambot at napaka-mababaw masyado sa amin." [That's not good. That will be tantamount to becoming so selective. If it's limited to illegal drugs, then it's so weak and shallow for us.]

Amnesty International, however, is all against the revival of death penalty.

The group said the re-introduction of the death penalty would be a major setback in the promotion of human rights.

"Regardless of the crime hindi kami naniniwala na ang death penalty ay tumutugon sa obligasyon ng pamahalaan na i-respeto, protektahan, at i-fulfill ang mga karapatang pantao," Amnesty International Philippines Chairman Ritzlee Santos said. "Hindi kami naniniwala na death penalty will deter crime"

[Translation: Regardless of the crime, we don't believe that death penalty would respond to the government's obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights. We don't think that death penalty would deter crime.]

The group also said that criminal justice systems are vulnerable to error - which could mean executing even those who are wrongly convicted but actually innocent.

Source: cnnphilippines.com, December 8, 2016


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