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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…

Bernie Sanders And Hillary Clinton Split On The Death Penalty

Bernie Sanders (left) and Hillary Clinton (right)
Bernie Sanders (left) and Hillary Clinton (right)
Clinton thinks it's appropriate for "particularly heinous crimes," while Sanders wants the government out of the killing business.

WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders split on the issue of capital punishment during a debate Thursday, with Clinton supporting the death penalty in certain circumstances and Sanders saying the government shouldn't be "part of the killing."

Clinton said during the MSNBC debate that she still supports the death penalty, though said she had "much more confidence in the federal system" and had concerns with how the death penalty was implemented on the state level. She said she hoped the Supreme Court would make sure states had protections in place and were implementing the death penalty in a constitutional manner.

"For very limited, particularly heinous crimes, I believe it is an appropriate punishment, but I deeply disagree with the way that too many states still are implementing it," Clinton said.

Sanders, on the other hand, said he worried that too many innocent people, particularly minorities, had been executed when they weren't guilty.

"Of course there are barbaric acts out there, but in a world of so much violence and killing, I just don't believe that government itself should be part of the killing," Sanders said. He said when someone commits murder, they should be locked away for life. But, Sanders said, "I just don't want to see government be part of killing."

Source: The Huffington Post, Ryan J. Reilly, February 4, 2016

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