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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…

Missouri House Budget committee approves breaking out fund for executions

Missourians and future legislators would be able to see where in the state budget is the money that pays for executions, under a change approved by the House Budget Committee.

The Committee approved putting money for Missouri's executions in a separate budget line - it used to come out of an expenses and equipment fund. The change means now it can be seen how much the state sets aside to pay for executions.

It also means future lawmakers who oppose the death penalty could propose pulling funding for it, though as long as a Republican majority controls the legislature such an effort would be unlikely to pass.

It would cover cash payments to the maker of the drug used in Missouri's lethal injection process and to the anonymous members of the execution team, and potential IRS penalties the state could incur for not giving those team members tax forms to report that payment.

It was sponsored by Representative Jeremy LaFaver (D-Kansas City). He opposes the death penalty, but says this is just about transparency.

"On something this important - taking a human life away from somebody - it is important enough for the taxpayers of this state to know this is the line in the budget that pays for it," said LaFaver.

The change received bipartisan support, including from several Republicans who support the death penalty.

Representative Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) said he had no problem it.

"I'm always in favor of breaking things out so it is more transparent and we know how money's being spent. I don't see any harm being done by this," said Fitzpatrick. "And quite frankly if there are penalties from the IRS there's a line to pay for them now."

The committee put $40,000 into that fund - enough to pay for 1 execution.

Source: missourinet.com, March 1, 2016

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