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Showing posts from March, 2017

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Will the Supreme Court Kill The Death Penalty This Term?

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Will the U.S. Supreme Court add the fate of the death penalty to a term already fraught with hot-button issues like partisan gerrymandering, warrantless surveillance, and a host of contentious First Amendment disputes?
That’s the hope of an ambitious Supreme Court petition seeking to abolish the ultimate punishment. But it runs headlong into the fact that only two justices have squarely called for a reexamination of the death penalty’s constitutionality.
Abel Hidalgo challenges Arizona’s capital punishment system—which sweeps too broadly, he says, because the state’s “aggravating factors” make 99 percent of first-degree murderers death-eligible—as well as the death penalty itself, arguing it’s cruel and unusual punishment.
He’s represented by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal—among the most successful Supreme Court practitioners last term. Hidalgo also has the support of several outside groups who filed amicus briefs on his behalf, notably one from a group including Ari…

Losing their religion: the hidden crisis of faith among Britain’s young Muslims

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The penalty sharia law stipulates for apostasy is capital punishment.
Sulaiman Vali is a softly spoken 33-year-old software engineer. A natural introvert not drawn to controversy or given to making bold statements, he’s the kind of person who is happiest in the background. He lives alone in a modest house on a quiet street in a small town in East Northamptonshire. He doesn’t want to be any more specific than that about the location. “If someone found out where I lived,” he explains, “they could burn my house down.”
Why should such an understated figure, someone who describes himself as a “nobody”, speak as if he’s in a witness protection programme? The answer is that six years ago he decided to declare that he no longer accepted the fundamental tenets of Islam. He stopped being a believing Muslim and became instead an apostate. It sounds quaintly anachronistic, but it’s not a term to be lightly adopted.
Last week the hacking to death in Bangladesh of the blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was a…

Florida Supreme Court throws out 2 death sentences

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ORLANDO,Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court ordered for two Central Florida convicted murders Thursday to receive new sentencing after throwing out their original death sentences.
Brandon Lee Bradley was convicted of the 2012 killing Brevard County Deputy Barbara Pill. When Bradley shot her, Pill was attempting to stop him after he'd stolen property from a Melbourne hotel and hit another person with his car.
A jury recommended the death penalty by a vote of 10-2. Bradley will receive life without parole if a new jury doesn't unanimously recommend death.
Bradley’s girlfriend, Andria Kerchner, who was in the car with him, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for her role in Pill’s death.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey and Seminole-Brevard State Attorney Phil Archer hosted a news conference Thursday at 3:45 p.m. in response to the Supreme Court's decision overturning the death sentence.
Both officials said the death penalty will most likely be pursued once again during Bradl…

Chinese mother of man wrongfully executed over rape and murder gets 2.7m yuan payout

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The mother of a 20-year-old man who was wrongly executed for rape and murder more than two decades ago will receive about 2.7 million yuan (US$391,000 or HK$3.04 million) in compensation, including a record 1.3 million yuan for emotional damages, local media reported.
The amount is far less than the 13.9 million yuan demanded by the family of Nie Shubin.

He was taken into custody shortly after police found the body of Kang ­Juhua in Shijiazhuang in Hebei province in 1994.
Nie confessed during police questioning and was tried and executed the next year, at the age of 21. In December, the Supreme People’s Court overturned the verdict, citing a lack of evidence and questions over the authenticity of his confession.
Nie’s mother, Zhang Huanzhi, said she would not appeal against the compensation award handed down by the province’s highest court, according to Shanghai-based online news outlet ­Thepaper.cn.
The case has been widely considered one of the mainland’s most notorious wrongful ex…

Jokowi and Hollande did not discuss death penalty: Foreign Minister

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During a meeting on Wednesday President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and French President Francois Hollande apparently failed to discuss Indonesia’s controversial policy on the death penalty that France has repeatedly criticized.
France had several times requested Indonesia halt the plan to execute one of its citizens, Serge Atlaoui, who was put on death row after being convicted of drug charges, warning that the relationship between the two countries could suffer if it went ahead.
Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP Marsudi, who accompanied Jokowi during the meeting, said that the two leaders discussed ways to improve bilateral ties between Indonesia and France, but none of the topics were related to Serge’s fate or Indonesia’s death penalty.
“There was no [such topic discussed],” Retno said at the State Palace.
Hollande was in Jakarta for a one-day state visit as part of a week-long Southeast Asian trip. He arrived in Jakarta after earlier visiting Singapore and Malaysia.
Serge Atlaoui, 51, …

'This bill will give us options': Mississippi on the verge of allowing execution by firing squad

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Mississippi is considering the use of firing squads as an option for capital punishment as House Bill 638 makes its way to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, the Hattiesburg American reports.
The bill, "To Revise The Methods By Which The Death Penalty May Be Carried Out; And For Related Purposes," also includes lethal injection, nitrogen gas, and electrocution as means of execution to be considered before firing squads, in a line of succession if one is ruled unconstitutional.
The Senate adopted the bill on Tuesday and it is now in the process of being passed along to the governor. When it was first introduced, the bill had listed "firing squad" as the 3rd option, but was later removed by a Senate committee. The Mississippi House reinstated it.
Execution by firing squad is a form of capital punishment often used by the military at war. Its use in the military involves the detainee or prisoner standing or sitting in front of a wall, as military personnel line up and aim …

Trump's support for the death penalty puts him on wrong side of history

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Our president is the same man who once paid $85,000 for full-page ads in the top four New York Daily newspapers to loudly express his wish: "Bring Back the Death Penalty!"
He is perhaps the loudest proponent of capital punishment to ever take office. Yet, ironically, in the year he got elected, the total number of executions in this country only amounted to 20 -- a 25-year low.
Further, with only 30 new death sentences imposed in 2016, America experienced the lowest number of new death row inmates since the reinstatement of the sentence in 1976. 
Will executions ramp up again over the next 4 years? With a death penalty advocate as the leader of our land, what is happening with capital punishment in America in these first few months?
The following is a state-by-state breakdown of current capital punishment activity since the arrival of President Trump.
Alabama: Known as the final holdout of state's that allow judges to override a jury when sentencing capital murder cases,…

Gaza military court sentences 2 to death for drug offenses

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In the 1st ruling of its kind since the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994, a military court in Gaza City sentenced 2 Palestinians convicted of selling drugs to death on March 18. The court condemned others convicted of the same charges to prison with hard labor. The sentences were welcomed by many Palestinians but slammed by human rights groups.
According to the charge sheet published by the Ministry of Interior, based on intelligence received, the Palestinian Anti-Narcotics Department arrested the 2 while in possession of large quantities of drugs they had smuggled across the Gaza Strip's southern border. A 2013 law on psychotropic substances allows for the execution of drug dealers in the Gaza Strip.
The head of the military court, Nasser Suleiman, told journalists on March 18 that those condemned to death had previous convictions of drug dealing but had committed the same crime again, meaning that the previous punishments had not deterred them.
He said the mil…

Arkansas defends unprecedented bid to execute eight in 10 days

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Eight inmates due to be put to death over 10 days next month in Arkansas are making last-ditch bids to halt the unprecedented flurry of executions.
Lawyers for the prisoners say the "assembly-line" of four double lethal injections is unconstitutional.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson last month ordered the death row inmates to be killed before the state's execution drugs expire.
Arkansas has not executed an inmate since 2005.
No US state has put eight inmates to death in such an accelerated schedule since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
In the latest legal action in the case, one of men, Stacey Eugene Johnson, asked the state's highest court on Wednesday to block his execution so evidence from his murder trial can be retested.
Attorneys for another of the convicted murderers, Bruce Ward, asked a state judge to block his execution, saying the prisoner is not mentally competent.
A group of former corrections officers wrote to the governor on…

Louisiana inmates at Angola sue over solitary confinement on death row

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Inmates on Louisiana's death are confined in inhumane isolation for 23 hours a day in windowless cells "the size of an average home bathroom," according to a lawsuit challenging the practice.
Attorneys for three death row prisoners at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola filed a class action Wednesday against prison officials, claiming the solitary confinement conditions violate the inmates' constitutional rights.
The federal lawsuit claims the conditions on death row are inhumane and jeopardize prisoners' physical and mental health. The suit asks the court to order prison officials to alleviate the conditions for all prisoners on death row at Angola.
The suit says inmates can leave their cells — one at a time, for one hour each day — to shower, use a phone and walk on their death row tier. They can go outside three times a week, but they're isolated in a "small outdoor cage resembling a dog pen," the suit adds.
"Physical human contact of an…

Bahrain sentences two to death for police bombing

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The July 2015 bombing of a police patrol in the Shiite quarter of Sitra killed two officers and wounded six others
Dubai: A Bahraini court sentenced two people to death on Wednesday over a deadly bomb attack on a police patrol in 2015, a judicial source said.
Five others were sentenced to life in prison while six defendants received 10-year sentences, including a Shiite cleric, the source said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to brief the press.
The cleric, Shaikh Hassan Eisa, a former MP and member of the now-banned Al Wefaq opposition group, was found guilty of using Iranian funds to finance a “terrorist cell”, the source said.
One of those given the death penalty was sentenced in absentia.
In total 24 people were tried in connection with the attack. Two were acquitted while 20 were handed prison sentences ranging from six months to life. Eight of the defendants were also stripped of citizenship.
The July 2015 bombing of a police patrol in the Shiite quarter of Sitra, …

Indonesia's president Joko Widodo says open to death penalty review

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JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesia's President Joko Widodo said he would restore a moratorium on the death penalty if he won the backing of the people, after a spate of executions that drew international condemnation.
Joko declared an anti-drugs campaign soon after coming to power in 2014 and refused all requests for pardons from death-row drug convicts, ending a four-year moratorium.
But in recent months he has softened his position.
Asked in an interview with AFP on Monday whether he would consider a moratorium, he said: "Why not? But I must ask my people.
"If my people say OK, they say yes, I will start to prepare," he said.
A moratorium could be the first step towards abolishing the death penalty, a move which needs approval in parliament which has been discussing the issue for the past year.
However, he said it would be difficult to secure parliamentary backing without clear public support in a conservative, Muslim-majority country where voters are deeply concerned abo…