FEATURED POST

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

Image
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…

Indonesian delegate booed at UN meeting after defending use of death penalty on drug offenders

World governments at a UN meeting on the global drug problem were urged Tuesday to move away from repression, abolish the death penalty for drug offenses and step up treatment.

In the 1st such meeting in nearly 20 years, the UN General Assembly adopted a document that marks a shift away from the "war on drugs" launched in the 1970s, with its heavy-handed approach centered on law enforcement and criminalization.

"Drug policies that focus almost exclusively on the use of the criminal justice system need to be broadened. They need to be broadened by embracing a public health approach," said World Health Organization (WHO) director Margaret Chan, drawing applause.

The 3-day special session was requested by Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala, which have felt the brunt of the war on drugs with an explosion of crime and violence.

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto said the fight against drugs must be seen from a "human rights perspective" and warned that harsh penalties for drug use "create a vicious cycle of marginalization and crime."

Saying that his country had paid a "high price" for failed global drug policies, he also backed calls for decriminalizing marijuana use for medical and scientific purposes.

Delegates from the European Union, Switzerland, Brazil, Costa Rica and Uruguay, among others, called for abolishing capital punishment for convicted drug felons, a practice widely used by China, Iran and Indonesia.

Indonesia's delegate drew jeers when he declared that the use of the death penalty was a matter for individual states to decide, in a statement backed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran and Pakistan, among other countries.

The document adopted at the session makes no reference to the death penalty but calls on government to "promote proportionate national sentencing policies... whereby the severity of penalties is proportionate to the gravity of offenses."

Pakistan said it was gravely concerned by the trend toward legalizing the use of marijuana and other drugs.

Uruguay became the 1st county to fully legalize marijuana in 2013 and Canada is among countries looking at a similar measure.

"This would give a fillip to drug demand, thus igniting the supply chain having direct fallouts on our region," Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan warned.

"We have dreamed of a drug-free society rather than a drug-tolerant society," he said.

China's Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun agreed: "Any form of legalization of narcotics should be resolutely opposed."

Hong Kong success

Some 27 million people worldwide are living with drug-use disorders, and more than 400,000 of them die each year, according to the WHO.

Drug use by injection accounts for 30 % of new HIV infections outside Africa and contributes to epidemics of hepatitis B and C in all regions.

The WHO's Chan singled out Hong Kong as a success story, saying methadone treatment for drug users had been key to reducing petty crime.

"People with drug dependence can be helped and returned to productive use in society," she said.

The adopted document calls for "appropriate medication-assisted therapy programs, injecting equipment programs as well as antiretroviral therapy and other relevant interventions."

Ethan Nadelmann, who heads the Drug Policy Alliance, which is pushing for reform, said the UN text was a "notable improvement" but still "quite limited and disappointing."

"Those in favor of maintaining the status quo, notably the Russians and their allies, won the bigger battles in the negotiations leading up to this week's meeting," he said.

Last week, the former presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Nigeria joined celebrities Sting and Michael Douglas along with businessman Warren Buffett to call for an end to the "disastrous" war on drugs.

"Humankind cannot afford a 21st-century drug policy as ineffective and counterproductive as the last century's," the letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. "A new global response to drugs is needed, grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights."

Source: coconuts.co, April 20, 2016

- Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

New Hampshire: More than 50,000 anti-death penalty signatures delivered to Sununu

Texas: The accused Santa Fe shooter will never get the death penalty. Here’s why.

Post Mortem – the execution of Edward Earl Johnson

What Indiana officials want to keep secret about executions

China: Appeal of nanny's death penalty sentence wraps up

Ohio: Lawyers seek review of death sentence for 23-year-old Clayton man

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

Texas prisons taking heat over aging execution drugs experts say could cause 'torturous' deaths

Texas executes Juan Castillo

Iraq court sentences Belgian jihadist to death for IS membership