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Showing posts from May, 2017

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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…

Man who killed 4 people sentenced to death in Nebraska

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A man convicted of killing 4 people in Omaha in 2013 was sentenced to death Tuesday by a 3-judge panel - Nebraska's 1st death penalty sentence handed down since the punishment was reinstated by voters in November.
The panel issued its ruling in the case of Nikko Jenkins, who was convicted of 4 counts of 1st-degree murder for the August 2013 shooting deaths.
The judicial panel had the option of sentencing Jenkins to death or life in prison. The judges cited the heinous nature of the killings in their decision and said they believed state psychiatrists who testified that while Jenkins does have narcissistic and anti-social personality disorders, he knew right from wrong when he committed the crimes.
"Each one of these murders was a planned and deliberate act," Douglas County District Judge Peter Bataillon said Tuesday during the hearing.
Jenkins, who was visibly thinner than when he was first arrested, showed no emotion as he was sentenced. The only words he said loud eno…

“Last chance for Pablo”: family of US death row inmate starts crowdfunding drive

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Nearly €1.1 million: that is how much Pablo Ibar, who has been behind bars in the United States for 23 years, needs to raise in order to retain a good lawyer who might prevent his execution for a triple murder that he denies having committed.
Thanks to financial aid, donations and his family’s tireless work, the fundraising drive has already secured over €701,000. Now, the Pablo Ibar Association is launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise the remaining amount.
Ibar, a US resident who is of Basque descent on his father’s side, was arrested in 1994 and accused of murdering a bar owner and two models at the former’s home in Broward County, Florida.
During the trial, which extended to 2000, Ibar was defended by a court-appointed attorney who suffered from addiction problems and was himself later arrested. As a result of a weak defense, Ibar was sentenced to death.
A series of endless appeals ensued. In the US, this requires a lot of money. Thanks to financial aid that poured in from Sp…

Why death penalty is not the answer to sexual violence in India

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The death penalty is a distraction from the real measures that India needs to take to protect women's rights to safety, writes Gopika Bashi of Amnesty International.
Earlier this month in the Rohtak district of India's northern state of Haryana, two men were arrested after the body of a young Dalit woman who had been gang-raped and murdered was found in an empty field.
A team from the National Commission for Women which visited the area demanded the death penalty for the accused, citing the brutality of the crime.
Just a few days earlier, the Supreme Court had upheld the death sentences of four men convicted of the brutal gang-rape and murder of a young woman in Delhi in December 2012.
Several political parties and media stations celebrated the verdict. But what's been lost in the din is the futility and unfairness of imposing the death penalty in cases involving violence against women.
The Delhi gang-rape sparked nationwide protests and led to landmark reforms to India…

Ohio Supreme Court affirms death sentence of only woman on death row

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday reaffirmed the death sentence for the only woman on death row in the state.
The high court ruled 6-1 to uphold the death sentence for Donna Roberts, who was convicted in 2003 of conspiring with her lover to murder her ex-husband, Robert Fingerhut, and collect $550,000 on his life insurance policies.
Roberts, 73, is the only woman on death row in Ohio and is incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville.
The Supreme Court had previously twice vacated Roberts' sentence.
On the first appeal, the court affirmed Roberts' conviction for aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery but vacated the death sentence because the prosecutor was allowed to help draft the sentencing opinion.
On the second appeal, the court again vacated the death sentence because we concluded that the trial court did not reference in its opinion Roberts' statement that she had suffered head injuries, been raped as a child…

Stop Calling Indonesia a Role Model. It's Stopped Being One.

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“It’s over for Indonesia’s tradition of moderation… In ten years, Indonesia could be Pakistan.”

Ahok’s imprisonment has sent shockwaves through Indonesia’s religious minorities and among moderate, pluralistic-minded Sunni Muslims. If a talented, popular governor who was not corrupt – a rare breed in Indonesia – could be brought down and jailed because of religion, what fate awaits the country’s grassroots Christians, Ahmadiyya Muslims, Shias, Buddhists, Hindus, Confucianists, and those Sunnis who do not subscribe to radical Islamist ideology?
[A]hok’s case shines a spotlight on the erosion of Indonesia’s tradition of pluralism, and exposes its fragility. “It’s over for Indonesia’s tradition of moderation,” said Andreas Harsono, Human Rights Watch’s researcher in Jakarta. “In ten years, Indonesia could be Pakistan. No bars, no beer, very limited rights for minorities, and women completely covered, especially in the most conservative Muslim areas. And there might be big violence.”
Indon…

Man who killed police officer sentenced to death in Kuwait

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Hit and run driver wounds five others as people celebrate Kuwait National Day
Manama | A court in Kuwait has sentenced a Kuwaiti to death for killing one police officer and wounding five others.
The crime occurred in February 2016 as the country was celebrating its National Day.
Reports said that the driver was involved in a hit and run accident after he drove into a security check-point and tried to escape.
As officers chased him, he took out a knife he had concealed under his clothes and stabbed one of them killing him. He was eventually subdued and arrested.
The police said the dead police officer was Turki Mohammad Al Enzi and that the murderer, Abdul Aziz Al Shamlan, was 22 years old.
The court said the death verdict was based on the police reports, the confessions of the defendant and on the medical report.
The murderer’s father said at the time that no sensible person would target police officers and explained that his son had mental problems.
“My son has an incident previously…

Minneapolis art museum to remove gallows-like sculpture following protests by Native Americans

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The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis will remove a gallows-like sculpture, following protests by Native Americans, who say it brings back painful memories of the mass hanging of 38 Dakota men in 1862.
'Scaffold,' by Los Angeles-based artist Sam Durant, addresses the history of the death penalty, which according to some local audiences brings in the reference to a specific event in Minnesota history related to the US-Dakota War, says a blog of Walker Art Center.
It was set to be unveiled in June, when the museum's Minneapolis Sculpture Garden reopens after a reconstruction project.
Meanwhile, Walker executive director Olga Viso issued a statement, apologizing for not anticipating how provocative the work would be. She said she had spoken with Durant, and he was open to removing the sculpture.
"As director of the Walker, I regret that I did not better anticipate how the work would be received in Minnesota, especially by Native audiences. I should have engaged leaders i…

Death Sentences in the Delhi Gang Rape Case: Brutality as Trumps

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On 16th December 2012, a particularly disturbing case of gangrape and murder in New Delhi (‘the Delhi gangrape case’) set off massive nationwide protests. Widespread discussions on sexual violence in India led to significant criminal law amendments, including, the introduction of death penalty for the repeat offence of rape and also for rape resulting in death or vegetative state. More than four years later, the Indian Supreme Court on 5th May upheld the death sentence imposed on the four convicts by the trial court and the Delhi High Court.The Supreme Court’s judgment has significant consequences for the law on sentencing in capital cases, and necessitates closer scrutiny of the principles affirmed and ignored by the court.
Death Penalty Sentencing in India
In India, murder is punishable with either death or life imprisonment and rape as such does not attract the death penalty. Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code in 1973 sent the clear message that life imprisonment was t…

Iran: Two Prisoners Executed, One of them in Public

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An unidentified prisoner sentenced to death on rape charges was reportedly hanged in public in Shiraz in front of a crowd of people. Another prisoner was reportedly hanged at Khorramabad's Parsilon Prison on drug related charges.
Iran Human Rights (MAY 29 2017): On the morning of Sunday May 28, an unidentified prisoner sentenced to death on rape charges was reportedly hanged in public in Shiraz in front of a crowd of people. 
The execution was announced by the state-run news agency Rokna.
On Friday May 26, a prisoner was reportedly hanged at Khorramabad's Parsilon Prison on the charge of possession and trafficking 850 grams of heroin. 
The HRANA human rights news agency has identified the prisoner as Morteza Sanaie, 55 years of age. 
Iranian official sources, including the media and the Judiciary, have not announced Morteza Sanaie's execution.
Iranian parliament members had formerly requested from the Judiciary to stop drug related executions for at least five thousand p…

With A Retail Partner, Anti-Death Penalty Movement Can Smell Success

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The often-ignored issue finds a fragrant angel in Lush as it hopes to add mainstream support to every shopping bag.
CHICAGO ― On a recent spring evening along the Magnificent Mile, a cluster of shoppers gathered amid heaps of organic soap and fizzy bath bombs to engage in a decidedly less effervescent topic: the death penalty.
Lush, the activist-minded cosmetics company, was kicking off an anti-capital punishment campaign at its Michigan Avenue store, complete with speakers, including a death row exoneree, and a mini-documentary about wrongful convictions. Lush launched a special edition of its signature product, the bath bomb, to raised funds for the campaign, and it has drawn the notice of Teen Vogue, the beauty and lifestyle site Refinery29 and others.
At a store where customers typically come to sample beauty products or maybe enjoy a bachelorette party, neither the setting nor the audience was typical of the traditional anti-death penalty contingent ― and that’s exactly what advo…