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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…

China remains world's top executioner, Iran next, says Amnesty report

Chinese death-row inmates
China has remained the world's top executioner amid a decline in global executions, Amnesty International's annual report on capital punishment said on Thursday.

Amnesty International recorded at least 993 executions in 23 countries in 2017, down by 4 % from 2016 (1,032 executions) and 39 % from 2015 when the London-based organisation reported 1,634 executions, the highest number since 1989.

Besides China, 84 % of all reported executions took place in just 4 countries -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.

Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) resumed executions in 2017, the report said.

Executions noticeably fell in Belarus (by 50 %) and Egypt (20 %). However, it increased in Palestine from 3 in 2016 to 6 in 2017; in Singapore from 4 to 8; and in Somalia from 14 to 24.

In 2017, Guinea and Mongolia abolished the death penalty in law for all crimes.

While Kenya abolished the mandatory death penalty for murder, Burkina Faso and Chad also took steps to repeal this punishment with new or proposed laws.

"The progress in sub-Saharan Africa reinforced its position as a beacon of hope for abolition... It is high time that the rest of the world follows their lead and consigns this abhorrent punishment to the history books," said Amnesty's Secretary General Salil Shetty.

The report also showed Amnesty International recorded commutations or pardons of death sentences in 21 countries including India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the US.

The organisation recorded at least 2,591 death sentences in 53 countries in 2017, a significant decrease from the record-high of 3,117 recorded in 2016. At least 21,919 people were known to be on death row at the end of 2017.

Source: ibtimes.sg, April 12, 2018


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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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