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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…

The Philippines votes on restoring death penalty and lowering age of criminal responsibility to 9

Feeding street children in Manila
Feeding street children in Manila
Introducing the death penalty and lowering the age of criminal responsibility could be a toxic combination in the Philippines.

By age 12, Ryan had already sold crack cocaine, begged, and stolen from shops. He had been to prison five times, and was brutally tortured by police to find out where he had hidden a necklace. 

“The police made me kneel on a rough floor all night and beat my legs with the batuta stick. They had no mercy, even though I begged in pain,” Ryan said. After that, he was given only a biscuit for dinner, and sent back to his jail cell, he told Unicef workers.

The Philippines had its third and final reading this week of a bill to bring back the death penalty—one of President Duterte’s main election campaign promises. If the bill is passed, the Philippines would be the first country in Southeast Asia to abolish and then reinstate capital punishment. Compounding this is the likely lowering of the age of criminal responsibility to nine, which would make it one of the only nations in the world to hold children under ten to account.

If the death penalty is passed, and the age of criminal responsibility is reduced, it’s possible that children like Ryan, forced onto the streets to provide for their large families, could face execution.

“Lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 is a death sentence to our children,” Senator Risa Hontiveros, who is opposing the bill, said in a national press conference in February. By treating children in conflict with the law as hardened criminals, they could either end up dead in the hands of extrajudicial killers or the state.”

The third reading of the bill yesterday in the lower house was largely symbolic, as it has already passed in the Lower Chamber with 217 votes in favor, and just 54 against. Finally, it will go to the Senate, which is also sympathetic to Duterte. The president must then sign off on the bill, and the death penalty will be in force.

“The Senate is now the Philippines’ last real hope of upholding its international obligations and rescuing the country from this backwards step,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s director for southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The Philippines abolished the death penalty in 2006, amid overwhelming support from legislators. The then president Gloria Arroyo, signed the law to end the punishment just before she visited the Vatican to meet the Pope. “We yield to the high moral imperative dictated by God to walk away from capital punishment,” Arroyo said in a speech.

Twelve years later, and the current government is committed to reinstating the penalty. 

➤ Click here to read the full article

Source: Newsweek, Eleanor Ross, March 10, 2017

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