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The American death penalty is extraordinarily fragile, with death sentences and executions on the decline. Public support for the death penalty has diminished. The practice is increasingly marginalized around the world. California, with its disproportionately large share of American death-row inmates, announces an end to the death penalty. The year? 1972. That’s when the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty inconsistent with the state’s constitutional prohibition of cruel or unusual punishments—only to have the death penalty restored a year later through popular initiative and legislation.
On Wednesday, again, California walked back its commitment to the death penalty. Though not full-fledged abolition, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on capital punishment lasting as long as his tenure in office, insisting that the California death penalty has been an “abject…

Bali Nine prisoner Matthew Norman on living a potential lifetime in Kerobokan prison

Matthew Norman
Matthew Norman
Matthew Norman has been living within the walls of the infamous Kerobokan prison in Bali, jailed as part of the Bali Nine, since he was 18 years old.

When Norman was 18 he agreed to act as a drug mule, seeing it as an opportunity to get his hands on "easy cash, fast cash".

He described himself back then as, "reckless, careless, wanting to cut corners in life — hence why I am in my position now".

"I had a good upbringing. I had a good family, my dad was always good to us and yeah, really good relatives and all that," he said.

Thinking back to when he started on the path that led him to Kerobokan, Norman said it all began when he was 16 and made the decision he was finished with school.

"I didn't want to continue on and get my HSC, I wanted to work and it wasn't always easy finding work so, yeah, just went with the wrong crew and things grew from there," he said.

Norman was approached one day by a friend who asked him whether he would be interested in becoming involved in drug trafficking, and, "without thinking about the consequences", he said yes.

Bali's Kerobokan Prison
Bali's Kerobokan Prison
"I was thinking more about the money that was involved in it — which in retrospect wasn't that much actually," he said.

Norman and fellow Bali Nine members Si Yi Chen and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen all agreed to act as drug mules.

Together they were arrested at a cheap Bali hotel room in possession of about 300 grams of heroin.

All up, Norman said he was offered $15,000 for the job — "Which is a lot to an 18-year-old, but when you look back at it now … it's peanuts, it's nothing."

Above all else, Norman said he regretted what he had put his family through, and the impact of his actions on their lives.

Dealing with the possibility of never leaving


While the knowledge he may never leave the prison was mentally "tough" to deal with, Norman said he tried to keep positive and focus on the possibility of a reduced sentence based on good behaviour.

"I've been here since 2005 and I have a life sentence," he said.

"Every day it is just a struggle to keep doing the good things, even though all around you sometimes can be chaos," he said.

"You can have other prisoners just going mental, going crazy because of their own circumstances, but I can't fall into that.

Norman said if he could deliver any message to President Joko Widodo — who has the power to grant him a reduction in his sentence and clemency — it would be one of understanding.

"I understand his high stance on drugs, and society has been ruined because of drugs, it's true," he said.

"[But] prisoners can change. Please have a look at what we're doing here and what's going on in other prisons, and please believe that inmates can change."

Click here to read the full article (+ photos & video)

Source: ABC News, July 24, 2017

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