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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…

Indonesia ombudsman finds rights violations in execution of Nigerian

Indonesian police officers
The office of Indonesia's ombudsman has unearthed evidence of rights violations in the execution of a Nigerian drug convict in 2016, an official said on Friday.

Humphrey Jefferson was still seeking clemency from President Joko Widodo at the time of his execution, which meant he still had a chance of being pardoned, said Ninik Rahayu, an official of the ombudsman's office who is overseeing the case.

Mr. Jefferson, sentenced to death in 2004, had also sought a second judicial review of his case by the Supreme Court, but his request was denied by the Central Jakarta court without proper explanation, Rahayu said, in what she called maladministration.

If the court had taken on Mr. Jefferson's case, his execution would have had to be delayed until its final verdict.

"When one is given the death penalty, all of the procedures must be done according to the laws," Rahayu told reporters at her office.

"The rights of the person must be fully met before his sentence is carried out. You can't bring back the dead to life."

Rahayu also said the Attorney General's office, responsible for conducting the execution, had not followed rules requiring it to give Mr. Jefferson and his family 72 hours' notice of the event.

The execution was done according to law, said Muhammad Rum, a spokesman for the Attorney General's office.

Telephone calls to the Central Jakarta court to seek comment were not answered.

A Supreme Court spokesman, Judge Suhadi, who goes by one name like many Indonesians, did not comment on the specific case but said the court did not generally grant a 2nd review.

Mr. Jefferson, 2 other Nigerians and an Indonesian were the only prisoners to face the firing squad on July 29 last year, from a group of 14 picked initially.

The delay was due to a "comprehensive review", said Attorney General H. Muhammad Prasetyo.

The executions were the 2nd round under Widodo, whose predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, imposed a moratorium on the death penalty.

Many international bodies and foreign governments have urged Indonesia to pardon those on death row. They have also called on Indonesia to abolish capital punishment, but the calls have gone unheeded.

Widodo has told law enforcement officers not to hesitate in shooting drug traffickers who resist arrest in the war on drugs.

The ombudsman's office has given government bodies 60 days to respond to its findings. But its limited powers mean it can only take its recommendations to Widodo in cases of failure to respond.

Mr. Jefferson's lawyer, Ricky Gunawan, said he planned to use the ombudsman's findings to file a civil lawsuit against the office of the attorney-general, seeking compensation for his client.

"We call on the Attorney General's office to stop the preparation of any future death execution ... and treat the convicts with respect and have their rights fulfilled," Gunawan said.

Sources: Reuters/NAN, July 29, 2017

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