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Pope Declares Death Penalty Inadmissible in All Cases

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ROME — Pope Francis has declared the death penalty inadmissible in all cases because it is “an attack” on the “dignity of the person,” the Vatican announced on Thursday, in a definitive shift in Roman Catholic teaching that could put enormous pressure on lawmakers and politicians around the world.
Francis, who has spoken out against capital punishment before — including in 2015 in an address to Congress — added the change to the Catechism, the collection of beliefs for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
The revision says the church would work “with determination” for the abolition of capital punishment worldwide.
“I think this will be a big deal for the future of the death penalty in the world,” said John Thavis, a Vatican expert and author. “People who work with prisoners on death row will be thrilled, and I think this will become a banner social justice issue for the church,” he added.
Sergio D’Elia, the secretary of Hands Off Cain, an association that works to abolish capital puni…

Texas court seeks to clear up whether inmate in CO's slaying wants to die

The Walls Unit, Huntsville, where Texas executions are carried out.
An appeals court asked a trial court to determine whether an inmate sentenced to die for a CO's death really is volunteering for execution

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals asked a trial court Wednesday to determine whether a 51-year-old prisoner sentenced to die for a corrections officer's death during a 2007 escape attempt in Huntsville really is volunteering for execution.

Condemned inmate John Ray Falk Jr. filed his own document last month seeking to get rid of his lawyers and "expedite this process with as much swiftness as this court might allow," the state's highest criminal court said in its 4-page ruling. 

The filing came after Falk initially sought to represent himself in the appeals process, then said he wanted his appeals waived, and later decided to retain attorneys.

The court gave Falk's trial court 30 days to resolve any questions, then gave parties in the case another 30 days to submit legal briefs.

Falk last year pleaded guilty and received the death penalty for the death of Texas Department of Criminal Justice corrections officer Susan Canfield.

Canfield was killed in September 2007 trying to block the escape of Falk and another inmate, Jerry Duane Martin, from a work detail at the Wynne Unit prison in Huntsville. 

A truck stolen by Martin hit her horse. Falk already was a convicted murderer serving a life prison term, and Martin was serving 50 years for attempted capital murder. 

They were among about 75 inmates working in a vegetable patch outside the Wynne Unit prison at the northern edge of Huntsville.

Authorities said the escape began when Martin used the ruse of a broken watch to get close to an officer and snatch a weapon. He tossed it to Falk and ran to steal the truck. Canfield was hit as they sped off while shots were being fired. Her head struck the truck, killing her.

The prisoners abandoned the pickup about a mile away and carjacked a woman at a bank drive-thru. Huntsville police pursuing them shot out a tire in that car. The inmates fled on foot.

Falk was apprehended within an hour. Martin was caught a few hours later, hiding in a tree.

Martin was executed in 2013 after requesting no additional appeals be filed in his case.

Source: The Associated Press, July 26, 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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