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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…

Turkish PM warns Juncker of ‘threatening statements’

Turkey responded to the head of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker’s recent article published in a German weekly considering Turkey’s re-installation of the death penalty as a red line in Turkey’s bid to join the EU bloc.

“No one can make threatening statements on Turkey’s sovereign rights,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said.

The EU is making “confusing statements,” accused Yıldırım while addressing his party’s parliament group on July 18.

“Those threatening us to close the EU doors to Turkey should know that the EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU,” Yıldırım said.

Those who are responsible should refrain from these kinds of statements that can harm channels of dialogue, he added.

The European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker urged Turkey to uphold democratic values if it hopes to join the European Union on July 16, a year after the failed coup.

Juncker’s comments came a day after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave a speech to parliament on the anniversary of the attempted coup, following mass rallies in Ankara and Istanbul.

“Whoever wants to join the European Union is joining a union of values,” Juncker wrote in an op-ed for German weekly Bild Sonntag.

“Europe’s hand remains outstretched” but it expects that “Turkey too should clearly show its European colors and emphatically take basic European values to heart,” he added.

In his speech, Erdoğan had vowed to sign any bill lawmakers pass on reintroducing the death penalty.

The European Commission is in charge of accession negotiations for prospective new members, with Turkey’s dossier largely frozen since last July’s failed coup attempt.

In his article, Juncker warned in particular against the detention of journalists without trial including Deniz Yücel of German daily Die Welt.

This was “in no way compatible with a union of human rights, press freedom and the rule of law,” he said.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News, July 18, 2017

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