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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…

Missouri representative files bill to 'optimize' death row

Missouri's death chamber
Missouri's death chamber
New rule would expedite execution process for those without further chance of appeal

State lawmakers will soon discuss House Bill 1647, which would reform Missouri's execution process.

State Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar, said the bill would require the state Supreme Court to perform a review on all pending death row cases within 30 days of it passing.

The bill would also require the court to schedule an execution within 60 days of the review's completion.

Kelley said the bill would both save the state about $30,000 a year per inmate. 

He said it would more effectively carry out the court's decision to impose the death penalty.

"My goal is not to ever execute anyone that's innocent. That's no one's goal," Kelley said. "When you have a person who's admitted they are guilty, once there are no more appeals available, that sentence needs to be carried out."

There are currently 27 inmates facing the death penalty in Missouri.

Source: ABC news, December 11, 2015

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