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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…

Louisiana: Glover files bill to compensate Glenn Ford's family

Glenn Ford
Glenn Ford
State Rep. Cedric Glover has filed a bill that would provide compensation to the family of the late Glenn Ford, who was released from prison after serving 30 years on death row after being wrongly convicted of a Shreveport murder.

Ford was released in March 2014, but died last summer after suffering late stage lung cancer. He and his family have so far been denied $330,000 in compensation from the state because the court has ruled Ford didn't meet the burden of proof for "factual innocence."

Ironically, Glover's bill seeks to clarify the law he authored in 2005 that provides compensation for those wrongly imprisoned.

"I couldn't in good conscience return to this body and not try to address what I believe is a grave injustice and a misinterpretation of the law," said Glover, who returned to the House this year after serving as Shreveport's mayor. "Most reasonable folks find it an injustice that he and his family wouldn't qualify for this compensation.

"It's something highly regrettable, and it's incumbent on me to step forward and offer a legislative remedy," Glover told Gannett Louisiana.

The state and the family of jewelry store owner Isadore Rozeman, who was murdered in 1983, contend Ford was involved in crimes associated with the murder and therefore shouldn't be entitled to compensation.

But A.M. "Marty" Stroud III, the lead prosecutor in the 1984 murder trial in which Ford was convicted, has drafted a letter in support of Glover's bill.

"As a prosecutor who argued strenuously for the death penalty to be imposed upon Mr. Ford, I wish I could undo the treatment and suffering I caused both the families of Mr. Rozeman and Mr. Ford," Stroud wrote, according to a press release from the Innocence Project New Orleans. "Obviously, I can't do that, but I can lend my voice to the effort to show that this state has some compassion for the wrongfully convicted.

"For 30 years, Glenn Ford lived in a cage not fit for human beings. He was a castaway that was forgotten by society. The proposed change to the definition of 'factual innocence' makes it very clear that the Glenn Fords of this world would have a realistic chance of some compensation for their mistreatment. If we are indeed a civilized people, this proposed amendment should have no problem being readily and fully endorsed by the legislature of this state."

Ford's attorney, Kristin Wenstrom of Innocence Project said, "If our law does not allow Glenn Ford to be compensated, it must be changed. We fully support Rep. Glover's impressive effort to make law mean justice."

Glover's House Bill 1116 will be assigned to the House Criminal Justice Committee.

Ford's case asking for compensation under the current law has been appealed to the Second Circuit Court, but Wenstrom said Wednesday the court hasn't issued a ruling.

Source: thenewsstar.com, April 7, 2016

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