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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…

Texas has enough drugs to carry out scheduled executions

Texas Death House, 'The Walls' Unit, Huntsville, Texas
Texas Death House, 'The Walls' Unit, Huntsville, Texas
With the first execution of the new year scheduled next week, Texas prison officials said Wednesday that the state has a large enough supply of drugs to carry out the executions already scheduled for 2016.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has been forced to find nontraditional suppliers of execution drugs in recent years because the usual vendors refused to make their drugs available following scrutiny from death penalty opponents.

The state was struggling to replenish its supply of the powerful sedative pentobarbital over the summer, but was able to obtain enough doses to execute six inmates between June and November.

There are nine lethal injections scheduled this year.

"The agency's supply of pentobarbital was purchased from a licensed pharmacy that has the ability to compound," TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark said Wednesday.

There is one more execution scheduled this month, one in February, three in March, two in April and one in June.

Condemned murderer Richard Masterson is set to be put to death Jan. 20 for the 2001 slaying of female impersonator Darrin Honeycutt in Houston. Masterson strangled the victim and stole his vehicle following the murder.

One of the inmates scheduled to die this year is Robert Pruett, who was given a new execution date this week. His lethal injection has been set for April 27.


Source: The Item, Cody Stark, January 14, 2016

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