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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…

Iran: 4 Prisoners Hanged on Drug Charges

Iran: Medieval and barbaric punishments
Iran: Medieval and barbaric punishments
On the mornings of Monday January 23 and Wednesday January 25, 4 prisoners were hanged in 2 different prisons on drug related charges.

According to close sources, at least 2 prisoners were hanged at Karaj's Ghezel Hesar Prison on January 25 on drug related charges. 

The prisoners have been identified as Majid Askari and Rahman Nourian. They were reportedly transferred from their prison cells to solitary confinement two days before their execution.

"Majid was arrested 6 years ago for one kilogram and 100 grams of crystal meth, and he was sentenced to death by the revolutionary court," a source close to Mr. Askari tells Iran Human Rights.

Iran Human Rights had warned about the imminent executions of Mr. Askari and Mr. Nourian.

Close sources also report on 2 executions which were carried out at Maragheh Prison on January 23 on drug related charges. The prisoners have been identified as Iraj Ghafouri and Hossein Fatemi.

"Iraj Ghafouri was arrested approximately 4 years and 7 months ago for 800 grams of crystal meth and some opium. Hossein Fatemi was also arrested in 2012, he was sentenced to death for the charge of trafficking 500 grams of crystal meth and 700 grams of crack," a close source tells Iran Human Rights.

Executions for drug related charges are increasing in Iran while the Iranian Parliament has proposed a law to limit the use of the death penalty for drug charges. The law must first be approved by Iran's Guardian Council, and it is not clear whether it would actually lead to a reduction in the number of drug related executions. Additionally, members of parliament recently wrote a letter to the head of the Judiciary calling for a halt to the execution sentences of about 5,000 prisoners who are on death row for allegedly committing drug related offenses.

Source: Iran Human Rights, January 26, 2017

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