Defense lawyers oppose changes to death penalty appeals process

Capital defense lawyers are opposing proposals to change capital appeals.{} They say streamlining the appeals process could result in Alabama executing innocent people.

Attorney General Luther Strange, county prosecutors and victim advocates say the appeal process lasts too long.{} Strange is proposing changes in the 2014 legislative session that would drastically cut the process. The bill has a good chance of passing the GOP-controlled Legislature.

But capital defense attorneys say extra time is needed to make sure death row inmates were convicted and sentenced properly.

Bryan Stevenson, of the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, says proposed changes would result in less reliable death sentencing.

And attorney Richard Jaffe, of Birmingham, says several steps are needed to make sure lawyers do their jobs right and evidence is correct.