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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…

Japan: New justice minister to 'respect courts' on death penalty

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa
Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa
TOKYO ━ Japan's new justice minister, Yoko Kamikawa, says she will "act carefully and strictly as required by the law" regarding capital punishment, respecting the sentences handed down by courts.

"The death penalty is an extremely serious punishment that ends a person's life, and I feel we must approach its use with the most cautious of attitudes," Kamikawa said at her first press conference after her cabinet appointment.

"At the same time, this is a country ruled by laws, and we must rigorously carry out finalized court rulings. Death penalty rulings in particular are handed down by courts after careful deliberation to people who have committed heinous and grave crimes," she said.

Kamikawa previously served as justice minister under Abe between 2014 and 2015, ordering the execution of one death-row inmate during that time.

The retention of capital punishment in Japan has drawn criticism from the international community, with the U.N. Human Rights Committee urging the country in 2014 to give due consideration to the abolition of the death penalty.

Japan hanged two death-row inmates last month under Kamikawa's predecessor Katsutoshi Kaneda, in the 18th and 19th executions carried out since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power in December 2012.

Kamikawa also said her ministry will provide thorough training to police and other agencies on the application of a controversial law enacted earlier this year to punish the planning of a range of crimes.

"Making sure that this law is applied appropriately and fairly is a highly important task," Kamikawa said.

The Abe administration has said the law is a necessary tool to thwart planned terrorist attacks, while its opponents warn that the "conspiracy law" could be used arbitrarily to crack down on civil liberties.

Source: Japan Today, August 7, 2017

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