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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Indonesian death penalty laws to be softened to allow reformed prisoners to avoid execution

Andrew Chan, left, and Myuran Sukumaran
Indonesian politicians have agreed to soften the nation's harsh death penalty laws.

The proposed new laws would impose a 10-year stay on executions, after which the death penalty could be commuted to a prison term.

"The legislation in the draft penal code is a small step towards abolition," said death penalty critic Ricky Gunawan, the director of Indonesia's Community Legal Aid Institute.

"It's a compromise between groups who are for and against the death penalty."

The changes would give authorities much greater leeway to avoid executing reformed prisoners, like Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran who were shot by firing squad in 2015.

Both men were model prisoners who were praised for helping their fellow inmates.

They were among 18 convicted drug smugglers executed in 2015 and 2016.

"There are so many death row prisoners who show transformation," Mr Gunawan said.

"The issue at stake is how to ensure prisoners like Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran could be seen by the Government as eligible to have their sentence commuted."


Change makes commutation decision 'highly political'


The 10-year stay on executions would be followed by an automatic review of the penalty by Indonesia's law and human rights minister.

Eighteen people have been executed under the rule of President Joko Widodo. Most were foreigners and all were convicted of drug smuggling.

The minister could recommend a death sentence be commuted to life in prison or a 20-year term.

Mr Gunawan said he would like to see the review done by an independent committee rather than a politician.

"The decision rests with the minister for law and human rights — therefore it's highly political," he said.

"There is a need for an independent body to advise the President."

Legislators have agreed on the proposed law changes, but they are part of sweeping review of the nation's criminal code that will not be enacted for several years.

Eighteen people have been executed under the rule of President Joko Widodo. Most were foreigners and all were convicted of drug smuggling.

The executions caused significant damage to Indonesia's relationship with Australia, among other countries.

Source: abc.net.au, Adam Harvey, January 10, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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