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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…

Nebraska death penalty foes to launch statewide campaign

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska death penalty opponents are launching a statewide campaign with a new name.

The group Retain a Just Nebraska will announce the next phase of its campaign Wednesday at the Capitol. 

The organization previously operated under the name Nebraskans for Public Safety.

Retain a Just Nebraska will ask voters to reject a proposal that would keep the death penalty legal in Nebraska. 

Lawmakers abolished capital punishment in May, but death penalty supporters responded with a petition drive that suspended the new law until voters decide the issue in the November general election.

Nebraska currently has 10 men on death row. 

Gov. Pete Ricketts has said the state will not pursue any executions until voters decide whether to keep the death penalty.

Source: The Washington Times, Associated Press, Feb. 23, 2016

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