Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Bali nine Renae Lawrence, other Australians recommended for sentence cut

Bali's Kerobokan prison
Bali's Kerobokan prison
Jakarta: Bali nine drug mule Renae Lawrence is expected to have her jail sentence cut by six months which would see her complete her prison term by the middle of next year.

However it is likely she will serve an additional six months behind bars rather than pay the one billion rupiah ($100,000) fine that accompanied her jail sentence.

The prison governor of Bangli jail, Diding Alfian, told Fairfax Media that Lawrence had been recommended for a six-month remission as part of Indonesian Independence Day celebrations on August 17.

Meanwhile Bali authorities said Australian fugitive Shaun Edward Davidson could have been a free man on Thursday if he had been granted a sentence remission.

Davidson escaped from Kerobokan jail via a waste tunnel in late June with just 10 weeks left of his 12-month jail sentence for using another man's passport.

"He was in for forged documents, we would have recommended him for remission if he behaved," Bali Corrections Chief Surung Pasaribu told Fairfax Media.

"He should have been free by tomorrow. Even without it, he would have only served a little more time."

Sentence reductions are handed out on Independence Day and some religious holidays to thousands of prisoners who have demonstrated good behaviour.

To be eligible, prisoners must have served at least six months of their prison term and cannot have been sentenced to death or be serving life terms.

This means the remaining members of the Bali nine, including Matthew Norman and Si Yi Chen, will not qualify for remissions because they have all been jailed for life.

However they can apply to have their sentence reduced to 20 years.

Lawrence, from Newcastle, was arrested at Bali's airport with 2.7 kilograms of heroin strapped to her body in 2005.

She was originally sentenced to life in jail but in 2006 this was reduced on appeal to 20 years and a one billion rupiah fine, or additional six months' jail time.

However she has received multiple remissions to her sentence for good behaviour and if the latest cut is approved she will complete her sentence mid next year

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Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Jewel Topsfield, Amilia Rosa, August 16, 2017

Bali Nine prisoners hope and wait

Matthew Norman
Matthew Norman
While Bali nine Renae Lawrence and three other Australian prisoners inch closer to freedom as part of Indonesia's annual Independence Day celebrations, others have not been so fortunate.

Hope and wait was all fellow Bali Nine inmates Si Yi Chen and Matt Norman said they could do as they spent yet another August 17 selling T-shirts and jewellery to visitors at Kerobokan prison.

Norman and Chen are not eligible to have their sentences reduced because they are serving life sentences.

"You can't really complain," Norman told reporters.

"It is not just us in this situation, it is prisoners all around the country."

What he did not want to think about was escaped inmate, Australian man Shaun Davidson.

If Facebook posts are to be believed, Davidson has been living it up following his late-night escape from Kerobokan two months ago.

"I don't want to think about that. That is just going to make you more stressed out in here ... It won't affect us, will not help us at all," Norman said.

Australian woman Sara Connor and her British boyfriend David Taylor, who were arrested this time in 2016 over the death of police officer Wayan Sudarsa, did not join in festivities.

Neither were recommended for reductions in their sentence as Kerobokan has yet to receive all their court documents.

However, Kerobokan Prison governor Tony Nainggolan said the Byron Bay mother might have two months cut from her sentence later in the year, once these documents were received.

"The regulation for the first year means she could have two months," he said.

Renae Lawrence
Renae Lawrence
Two other Australian men serving time in Kerobokan - former Perth developer Eric Gillet, who was jailed for fraud, and 71-year-old Robert Ellis, who was convicted for child sex offences - had three months shaved off their sentences.

Meanwhile, Edward Norman Myatt, who was jailed for eight years in 2012 for smuggling capsules of hashish and methamphetamine, had four months cut from his term.

As the only member of the Bali Nine who is eligible to receive time off her sentence, Renae Lawrence was given a six-month cut.

This, plus further scheduled reductions, paves the way for Lawrence, who is being held at Bangli prison, to be released as early as next year.

Across Indonesia, more than 92,800 inmates in the 226,000 strong prison population had their sentenced reduced.

According to the Law and Human Rights ministry, 2444 have been given immediate release.

The cuts are due to save the budget up to 102 billion rupiah (about $A9.8 million) in food alone.

But in Kerobokan, where only 14 walked free on Thursday, overcrowding remains chronic.

"There are 1462 prisoners and detainees. The capacity should only be 347 people and so it's 135 over capacity," Mr Nainggolan said.

Source: AAP, Lauren Farrow and Heru Rahadi, August 17, 2017

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