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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Union Cabinet clears ordinance on death penalty to child rapists

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NEW DELHI: In the wake of outrage over the brutal rape and murder of a minor in Kathua, Jammu & Kashmir, the Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday approved an ordinance to allow courts to pronounce the death penalty to those convicted of raping children up to 12 years of age.
The criminal law amendment ordinance seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Evidence Act, the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to introduce a new provision to sentence convicts of such crimes to death.
Today's ordinance approved by the Cabinet also prescribes the minimum punishment in case of rape of women to increase from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment. In case of rape of a girl under 16 years, minimum punishment has been increased from 10 years to 20 years, extendable to imprisonment for rest of life, which means imprisonment till that person’s natural life…

Oklahoma Officials Endorse Nitrogen Executions As 'Humane,' But Some Medical Experts Aren't Sure

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Oklahoma wants to go where no state has gone before: Executing death row inmates with nitrogen gas. Officials say nitrogen will bring quick, painless deaths, but the research is slim - and it has never been used in U.S. executions.
The case for nitrogen hypoxia sounds simple. Nitrogen is already in the air we breathe, but, as long as humans get the right mix, nitrogen is safe. The state wants to make death row inmates breathe pure nitrogen.
State Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, is a cardiac anesthesiologist who signed his name to the bill that made nitrogen hypoxia a legal execution method in 2015. He says the inmates would die from "lack of oxygen," not exposure to nitrogen.
Yen says this is not the same as choking to death, during which the "blood level of carbon dioxide would go up drastically." That carbon dioxide buildup is the primary reason for discomfort, Yen said. "Like, anxiety, and you might start sweating, and your blood pressure might go up.&quo…

Warden Describes Life on Texas Death Row in Delacruz Testimony

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Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison warden Stephen Bryant testified about living conditions on death row for jurors in the Isidro Delacruz trial on April 3, 2018.
Jurors unanimously sentenced Delacruz to death late Tuesday for the murder of 5-year-old Naiya Villegas on Sept. 2, 2014.
District Judge Ben Woodard told Delacruz his case was automatically appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal state court in Texas. He also informed Delacruz that he had appointed Hilary Sheard as his appellant attorney. Sheard will work with Delacruz's current court-appointed attorneys to begin the mandatory appeal of his capital murder conviction.
Sheard is a capital murder appellant qualified indigent defense attorney.
There are 229 male inmates on Texas death row. Isidro Delacruz will be the only inmate from Tom Green County.
Bryant is Senior Warden at the Pam Lychner State Prison in Humble, TX and spent 8 years working on Texas death row in the Allan B. Poluns…

UN rights experts urge Iran to annul death sentence against prisoner

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A group of United Nations human rights experts have called on Iran to annul the death sentence against a prisoner citing serious concerns that he was tortured in detention and did not receive a fair trial.
In a news release on Wednesday, the experts said that Iranian Kurdish prisoner Ramin Hossein Panahi, who was arrested last June for alleged membership of the Kurdish nationalist group Komala, was repeatedly beaten in detention, denied medical care and access to a lawyer, and held in solitary confinement until January.
They also expressed concern regarding his trial, which took place before the Revolutionary Court and lasted less than an hour.
"Executing Mr. Panahi, following his torture, and unfair trial and on the basis of charges that do not meet international standards for the use of death penalty, would be unconscionable," said the experts.
"We remind Iran that the only thing that distinguishes capital punishment from arbitrary execution is full respect for string…

Alabama executes Walter Moody

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Walter Leroy Moody, 83, has been executed for the 1989 murder of a federal judge, the office of Gov. Kay Ivey confirms.
Moody was executed by lethal injection at Holman Correctional Facility. The execution was slated to happen nearly 30 years after Moody killed Robert S. Vance, a federal judge, with a bomb mailed to his home.
Earlier Thursday evening the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a stay of execution that temporarily halted Alabama's execution of Walter Leroy Moody, Jr. The order cleared the way for the execution to proceed.
The Supreme Court gave no explanation in its orders for the delay or why it later lifted the stay.
The execution began at 8:16 p.m. and according to prison officials his time of death was 8:42 p.m.
Moody kept his eyes closed and head still throughout the lethal injection execution and did not respond when asked by the warden whether he wanted to make a last statement.
Other than his chest moving during the early part of the execution and his jaw dropping sligh…

Aging death row: Is executing old or infirm inmates cruel?

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Vernon Madison has spent decades on Alabama's death row. Now 67, Madison has suffered from strokes and dementia and his lawyers say he no longer recalls the crime that put him there: the 1985 killing of a police officer.
His speech is slurred, he suffers from confusion, and once thought he was near release and talked of moving to Florida, according to his lawyers. This fall, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to review the claims by Madison's defense team that executing someone in his condition would violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
"Killing a fragile man suffering from dementia is unnecessary and cruel," Madison's attorney, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, said in January, when the justices stayed Madison's execution the night he was to receive a lethal injection.
The U.S. death row population is aging, and that leaves courts increasingly likely to grapple with questions of when it becomes unconstitutionally cru…

Arkansas lawmakers call for removal of Pulaski County judge after 2nd death-penalty protest

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At least 2 lawmakers are calling for the removal of a Pulaski County judge after he publicly protested against the death penalty for the 2nd time.
Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen again lay motionless as he strapped himself to a cot Tuesday evening outside the Governor's Mansion.
In a statement, state Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, called the protest a "pathetic and depressing display."
"He has disgraced the office that he holds for years and now is using a desperate, attention seeking move to further bring shame on himself," Garner wrote.
State Rep. Bob Ballinger, R-Berryville, agreed in a Wednesday morning post on Twitter.
"It is time for #ARLeg to move to impeach Judge Wendell Griffen. Our justice system must be fair and impartial, and is no place for activism," Ballinger said.
Griffen was barred by the Arkansas Supreme Court from hearing capital punishment cases after he rallied against the death penalty on Good Friday last year.
"We are still…

Iraq sentenced 212 to death in Mosul since area retaken by Iraqi forces

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Human rights groups have accused Iraqi forces of flawed trials leading to unfair convictions
Baghdad: Iraqi courts have sentenced 212 people to death in Mosul and surrounding areas, most of them for complicity with Islamic State, since the area was retaken by Iraqi forces in July and August 2017, a judiciary spokesman said on Wednesday.
Mosul was home to two million people before being overrun in 2014 by Daesh which proclaimed a so-called “caliphate” stretching into neighbouring Syria.
Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi declared full victory over the group last December after Iraqi forces drove its last remnants from the country.
Since then, Human rights groups have accused Iraqi and other regional forces of inconsistencies in the judicial process and flawed trials leading to unfair convictions.
Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council said on Wednesday that criminal courts falling under the Nineveh Federal Court of Appeals, whose jurisdiction includes Mosul, had so far ruled on a total of 815 cas…

Iran: Execution Of A Sports Coach In Hamadan

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The Iranian regime’s criminal judiciary hanged Bahman Varmazyar, a sports coach, in the central prison of Hamadan on Wednesday morning April 18. 
There was no private plaintiff in his dossier who was accused of armed robbery of a jewelry store.
Following the efforts of Bahman’s family to save their son from execution, the mullahs’ regime falsely reported on Tuesday that his death sentence had been stopped, but he was executed on Wednesday early morning.
Thousands of prisoners across the country are on death row. 
A Baluch prisoner named Abdul Malek Baluchi, at the central prison of Zahedan, was transferred to the solitary confinement on April 13 after serving six and a half years imprisonment, and is on the verge of execution.
The mullahs’ regime is executing the youth of the country under the excuse of theft and smuggling at a time that Khamenei and other ruling mullahs from various factions and the IRGC and other government organs are the biggest thieves in Iran's history that …

South Carolina: Candidate running to be governor calls for return of firing squad

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In the wake of Sunday's deadly riot at a South Carolina prison, one of the Republicans running for governor has called for bringing back firing squads.
On a radio program, Catherine Templeton said firing squads should be revived in the Palmetto State. The Republican made the comments Tuesday on the Bob Mclain Show.
"Criminals legally sentenced to death are getting an unofficial reprieve right now as South Carolina goes without the drugs necessary for lethal injection," Templeton said. "We must make the death penalty swift and final. I will push for legislation allowing firing squads for court-ordered executions. And I will also seek to deny condemned inmates their choice of execution."
Templeton, who was a Cabinet director under former S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, made her comments a little more than a day after the riot at Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville late Sunday that left 7 inmates dead.
The Charleston attorney is not the first politician in South C…