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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

A year on from Peshawar, Pakistan sends more convicts to the gallows

Pakistan has hanged 8 convicted murderers in jails across the country. Executions come a day ahead of the 1-year anniversary of the Peshawar school attack, which prompted Islamabad to reinstate the death penalty.

A moratorium on executions was lifted last year by Pakistan after Taliban gunmen killed more than 150 people, most of them children, at an army-run school in the northwest on December 16, 2014.

The latest round of executions took place Tuesday in various locations in Punjab province, with 8 convicted murderers sent to the prison gallows.

"2 convicts on death row were hanged in Multan, 2 each in Bahawalpur and Gujrat and 1 each in Attock and Dera Ghazi Khan," Chaudhry Arshad Saeed, a senior prison official in Punjab, told the AFP news agency.

Pakistan has not released figures on the number of executions carried out since the 6-year moratorium was lifted. But rights activists put the number at 310 since March.

Taliban atrocity spurs return of hanging

The killing of nearly 150 people, mostly pupils, outraged the nation, allowing government to bring back the gallows.

Germany, the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on Pakistan to cease executing prisoners.

Islamabad argues the state killings are necessary to deter militancy in the country. But rights groups say 90 % of those executed were convicted of common crimes and not tied to militant groups.

For decades more than 7,000 death row prisoners have been awaiting the gallows, according to statistics compiled by the Law Ministry.

Source: Deutsche Welle, December 15, 2015

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