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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…

Saudi Arabia executes own citizen for murder; 56th beheading this year

Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Public execution in Saudi Arabia (file photo)
Saudi authorities executed a Saudi national on Monday for the murder of a compatriot, bringing the number of executions by capital punishment to 56 in the kingdom this year.

Ahmed al-Harbi was found guilty of stabbing and shooting Fahed al-Balawi during a quarrel, according to a statement by the interior ministry published by state news agency SPA.

Harbi was executed in the northern city of Tabuk. 

Most executions in Saudi Arabia are beheadings carried out by sword.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia ordered the execution of 153 people, the majority of which were death penalty sentences given for drug trafficking or murder, according to an AFP tally.

On a single day last month it put 47 people to death for "terrorism", including influential Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Amnesty International reports that the total number of executions in the kingdom in 2015 was the highest for 2 decades.

Saudia Arabia enforces a strict Islamic legal code under which murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape, homosexuality and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Source: Agence France-Presse, February 1, 2016

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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning