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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…

Pyongyang imposes death penalty for dealers in drugs and South Korean videos

Pyongyang
Pyongyang street
North Korea is executing people who distribute illegal drugs and South Korean videos, says the Korea Institute for National Unification.

The institute published "North Korean Human Rights Report 2016" on Monday after conducting in-depth interviews with 186 North Korean defectors who came to South Korea from the end of 2014 to last year.

According to the report, three North Koreans including a Hyesan University of Agriculture and Forestry student were shot dead in Hyesan, Yanggang Province in 2013 because they distributed drugs and South Korean videos.

2 men were also executed at Hyesan airport in 2014 after being charged with smuggling drugs and watching South Korean dramas. 

The defectors said 11 people had been sentenced to death for the same offences since 2011.

North Koreans did not face the death penalty just for distributing South Korean TV programs. 

However, they were sentenced to death when police caught them dealing in or buying illegal drugs as well as the videos.

The institute said illegal drugs were widely distributed in North Korea. 

Because of the growing number of cases involving drug dealing and distribution of South Korean videos, North Korean authorities had recently launched a crackdown and introduced severe punishment.

Source: Korea Times, April 26, 2016

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