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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…

Mississippi House proposes firing squad as execution method

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi House wants to allow the state prison system to execute prisoners using a firing squad if officials decide lethal injection is too expensive or unavailable.

The House amended Senate Bill 2237 Friday before passing it 80-39, sending it back to the Senate for more work.

The measure makes secret the names of prison employees at an execution and the pharmacy providing lethal drugs.

It also makes secret the names of family members of the prisoner or crime victim.

First Amendment advocates say that measure unconstitutionally restrains free speech.

Supporters say the measure protects those involved in executions from harassment by people who oppose the death penalty.

Attorney General Jim Hood has asked lawmakers to approve alternate execution methods including the firing squad, electrocution and the use of nitrogen gas.

Source: The Associated Press, March 25, 2016

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