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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…

Philippine president swears at European MPs over death penalty criticism

President Rodrigo Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has berated the European parliament for passing a resolution condemning his plans to revive the death penalty for drug convicts.

“I’ll talk in English,” he said, speaking to Filipino expatriates on a two-day state visit to Myanmar. “Do not impose your culture or your belief in what would be a government in this planet. Do not impose on other countries, especially us.

“Why don’t you mind your own business? Why do you have to fuck with us, goddamn it?”

Since taking office in July last year, Duterte, nicknamed “the Punisher” for his lethal approach to policing, has led a bloody drugs war that has killed more than 7,000 people. Many of the dead are suspected low-level dealers and alleged drug addicts.

Loved by many in the Philippines for his confrontational style, the president has lashed out at his critics, labelling the United Nations “stupid” and former US president Barack Obama a “son of a whore”. He also announced he personally killed criminals, including throwing one suspect to his death from a helicopter.

The Philippine house of representatives approved a version of the death penalty bill this month that will allow the execution of drug convicts by hanging, firing squad, or lethal injection. The draft will now go to the senate.

A resolution delivered by European Union lawmakers last week said it was “deeply alarmed” that the Philippines was planning to reintroduce the death penalty and that it considers capital punishment to be “cruel and inhuman ... which fails to act as a deterrent to criminal behaviour.”

The text also called for the release of Duterte’s highest-profile critic, Senator Leila de Lima, who was arrested last month on drug trafficking charges that the EU said “are almost entirely fabricated”.

The body also condemned Duterte’s open threats to kill human rights defenders, “credible reports” that Philippine polices falsify evidence to justify extrajudicial killings, and plans to lower the age of criminal responsibility to nine years old.

Following the killing of a South Korean businessman by rogue officers, Duterte halted all police operations in his anti-drug campaign. However, he has asked the army to continue the crackdown on crime.

More than two-thirds of all countries in the world have abolished the death penalty.

The Philippines was one of the first states in southeast Asia to ban executions although Duterte said in his speech on Sunday that the punishment was a “favourite” in the region.

“Because there is a death penalty in Indonesia, Malaysia, and I’m trying to revive it,” he said.

Source: The Guardian, Oliver Holmes, March 20, 2017

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