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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

Aceh to stop caning 'criminals' in public: officials

Public caning in Indonesia's Aceh province
Indonesia’s Aceh province will stop caning criminals in public after a wave of international condemnation of the practice, local officials said Thursday.

The conservative region of Sumatra — the only place in Muslim-majority Indonesia allowed to enforce explicitly sharia based laws — passed a regulation Thursday that will see criminals flogged only behind prison walls.

It is not clear when the new rule will come into effect.

Public whippings outside Aceh’s mosques is common punishment for a slew of offenses, ranging from gambling and drinking alcohol to gay sex.

A hooded figure on a makeshift stage rains down lashes, sometimes as many as a hundred strokes, on the back of a grimacing criminal as large crowds of adults and children jeer and scream abuse.

Rights groups have derided it as cruel and last year President Joko Widodo called for an end to public canings in Aceh.

“This (law) is to muffle protest… to muffle Islamophobia,” Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf said.

“We don’t want Islamophobia to interfere with (Indonesia’s) foreign affairs.”

Around 98 percent of Aceh’s five million residents are Muslims, subject to religious law, including the public whippings which came into practice around 2005.

Crowd enjoying the caning, Aceh, IndonesiaNon-Muslims can usually choose whether or not to be punished under religious law and sometimes choose a painful flogging to avoid a lengthy court process and jail term.

Two Indonesian Christians were flogged in February for playing an arcade game seen as violating Islamic law.

Under the new rules, caning with a rattan stick cannot be recorded anymore — crowds often filmed the spectacle on smartphones — and only journalists and adults can witness the punishment inside prisons.

Some locals, however, were not sold on outlawing public whippings.

“If caning is done in prison… we’re sure there will be more sharia violations in Aceh,” demonstrator Tuwanku Muhammad said at a small protest against the new legislation in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.

“Even now, there are… violations.”

Source: Coconut Jakarta, Agence France-Presse, April 12, 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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