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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…

Number of crimes in Japan falls to postwar low in 2015

Tokyo street
TOKYO — The number of crimes in Japan in 2015 hit a postwar low, the National Police Agency said Thursday, citing an increase in security cameras as well as raised public awareness of crime prevention.

Overall penal code violations decreased 9.3% from the previous year to 1,099,048, falling below the previous record of 1,190,549 set in 1973, the agency said in a preliminary report.

All categories of crimes marked declines from 2014.

The number of thefts, which account for more than 70% of crimes in Japan, dropped to 807,605 from 897,259. Murders fell to 933 from 1,054 with fraud cases down to 39,439 from 41,523.

The crime clearance rate, or the ratio of cases solved by police to total reported crimes, improved to 32.5% from 30.6%, with the ratio for murder and other violent crimes rising to 72.3% from 68.2%, topping 70% for the first time in 16 years.

By age of those subject to police action, the number of juveniles aged between 14 and 19 sharply fell to 39,501 from 142,594 in 2002, when the total number of penal code violations peaked.

That of the elderly aged 65 or older, meanwhile, nearly doubled to 47,643 from the 2002 figure of 24,241, reflecting Japan’s graying society.

Source: Japan Times, January 15, 2016

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