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New Hampshire lawmakers fail to pass death penalty repeal

BOSTON (Reuters) - New Hampshire's Senate failed to repeal the death penalty on Thursday, in a vote that capped weeks of emotional debate while focusing attention on the state's lone death row inmate. The Senate deadlocked 12 to 12 on a bill to abolish capital punishment, meaning it did not pass. New Hampshire's House had earlier passed the bill, and first-term Governor Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, had said she would sign it.

New Mexico to eliminate conjugal visits for prisoners

By Joseph J. Kolb ALBURQUERQUE, New Mexico (Reuters) - New Mexico will end conjugal visits between inmates and their spouses next month, officials said Wednesday, in a move that will leave the once-widespread practice in place in only three U.S. states. In addition to addressing concerns over pregnancies, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and smuggled contraband, eliminating the program will save the state about $120,000 per year, New Mexico Department of Corrections spokeswoman Alex Tomlin said.

Turkey's gay groups sound alarm over separate prisons plan

Gay rights groups in Turkey expressed alarm Tuesday at a government-led project to build prisons only for criminals who declare themselves gay, saying it would lead to more discrimination in a largely homophobic country. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag announced at the weekend that plans were underway to construct separate prisons for openly gay inmates in a bid to "protect convicts" with different sexual orientations.

Supreme Court softens Tories' tough-on-crime time-served sentencing law

OTTAWA - The bell has sounded ending one more round in what is shaping up to be a long-running bout between the county's highest court and the Harper government. The latest skirmish erupted Friday when the Supreme Court of Canada once again softened the Conservative government's tough-on-crime agenda. In a unanimous 7-0 ruling, the high court affirmed that offenders can receive extra credit for time spent in custody before they are sentenced.

Iraq executes two despite international outcry

Iraq executed two people convicted on anti-terror charges Monday, the justice ministry said, despite international condemnation of Baghdad's use of the death penalty and criticism of the country's judicial system. The executions, carried out by hanging, were the first to be confirmed since March 13, and brought to at least 46 the total number of people put to death so far this year, according to an AFP tally based on statements from the justice ministry and officials.

Inmate attacks in Ontario jails at five-year high as cellblock violence soars

TORONTO - Ontario's jails are in the midst of a surge of cellblock violence that suggests the province's overcrowded correctional system is simmering with tension, statistics show. Figures obtained by The Canadian Press under freedom of information reveal there were about 3,000 reported prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in 2012-13 — or eight attacks a day — up almost one-third from the 2,300 attacks five years earlier. And the number of times guards used physical force against inmates has almost doubled, reaching some 1,500 incidents from 800 in 2008-09.

Escape tale of first Australia convicts revealed in full

The only first-hand account of the most famous escape from Britain's fledging Australian penal colony was published in full on Friday for the first time, exactly 223 years on. The tale of William and Mary Bryant's escape from the first penal settlement in New South Wales on March 28, 1791, their extraordinary voyage and their ultimate recapture is well-known.

Retrial for Japanese man said to be world's longest-serving death row inmate

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese court on Thursday ordered the release and a retrial of an ageing prisoner accused of murder who served on death row for over 30 years, amid doubts about the evidence used to convict him. Japan and the United States are the only two Group of Seven rich nations to maintain capital punishment and the death penalty has overwhelming support among ordinary Japanese.

China, world's top executioner, defends death penalty

China defended the death penalty Thursday as a traditional deterrent, after a report said its annual executions had again far exceeded the rest of the world's combined. Beijing judicially put to death thousands of people in 2013 compared to a total of 778 elsewhere, the campaign group Amnesty International said in its annual report. It did not give a specific figure for China as Beijing considers the statistic a state secret and does not release it. But foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei dismissed the study and highlighted policies to curb capital punishment.

Secrecy plagues Japanese executions

Human rights group Amnesty International said Thursday that Japan's use of capital punishment was "shrouded in secrecy" and criticised its treatment of death row prisoners who are kept in solitary confinement for years. Launching its annual review of the death penalty around the world, Amnesty said the United Nation's Committee Against Torture has signalled its concerns about the Japanese criminal justice system.
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