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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Erdogan Calls for Reinstatement of Death Penalty in Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
"I believe, God willing, that after the April 16 vote parliament will do the what is needed concerning your demands for capital punishment."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday that he expects parliament to move to allow capital punishment - a change that could officially end Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the anniversary of a World War I campaign, Erdogan focused on the current political climate rather than historical successes.

"The families of the martyrs, the heroes [those killed as a result of a failed July 15 coup attempt] don't need to worry," he said as quoted from the rally by the French Press Agency. "I believe, God willing, that after the April 16 vote parliament will do the what is needed concerning your demands for capital punishment."

The EU has long said that reinstating capital punishment in Turkey, which was outlawed there in 2004, would be the end of Turkey's decades-long bid to join the bloc.

Tensions with Europe already are high as Turkey prepares for the April 16 referendum, which would broaden president Erdogan’s powers. 

Turkish officials have been campaigning among emigre Turks in Germany and the Netherlands to promote the referendum. 

Many of the scheduled rallies were canceled by German and Dutch leaders, resulting in various spats - including Erdogan referring to the Netherlands as "Nazi remnants".

In addition to damaging Turkey's chances of joining the EU, the diplomatic crisis threatens a deal agreed upon by the two sides last year that is aimed at alleviating the refugee crisis in Europe.

The ceremony, at which Erdogan spoke, marked the anniversary of what the Turkish people call the Canakkale battle, one of the greatest Ottoman victories during World War I and a defining moment in Turkish history.

Saturday's celebrations also featured the beginning of construction on what would be the world's largest suspension bridge, as announced by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

Source: VOA, March 18, 2017


Erdoğan pushes to restore death penalty


Turks vote to expand executive powers in next month’s constitutional referendum.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that he expects the Turkish parliament to restore the death penalty after a referendum next month to expand his executive powers.

“I believe, God willing, that after the April 16 vote parliament will do the necessary concerning your demands for capital punishment,” Erdoğan said in at rally on Saturday, AFP reported.

It is the first time the Turkish president has called on MPs to approve such a bill, AFP reported. It is up to parliament to propose a bill on the death penalty which would still need to be signed by Erdoğan. “When it comes to me I will approve it without hesitation,” he added.

Erdoğan has been campaigning to restore capital punishment since a failed military coup in July last year. The death penalty was abolished in 2004 as a condition for Ankara to join the European Union.

EU foreign ministers warned after the failed coup that restoring capital punishment would block accession talks with Turkey.

Source: politico, Quentin Ariès, March 18, 2017

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