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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…

Florida Senate votes down death penalty change

Florida's death chamber
Florida's death chamber
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A sharply divided Florida Senate is rejecting a proposal to require a unanimous jury recommendation in death penalty cases.

The Senate voted twice Wednesday on whether to require all 12 jurors to agree on death sentences. 

The proposal was rejected by votes of 22-18 and 23-17.

Florida doesn't require unanimous jury recommendations. But the Legislature is poised to change the law, requiring at least 10 out of 12 to recommend execution in order for it to be carried out.

The Senate originally wanted to require all jurors to agree on a death sentence. But senators agreed to switch to 10 jurors as part of a compromise with the House.

The Legislature is rewriting the death penalty law after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that the current method is unconstitutional.

Source: The Associated Press, March 2, 2016

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