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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…

Sri Lankan President commutes death sentences of 83 inmates

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has decided to commute the death sentences of 83 prisoners who are either on death row or serving life imprisonments. [sic]

President Sirisena has taken the decision to spare the lives of the prisoners based on the recommendations made by a committee appointed following a request by the joint committee of the Ministries of Law and Order and Prisons Reforms and Justice to review the death sentences, reports Lanka Page.

The Commissioner General of Prisons Nishan Danasinghe said they expect more death row inmates to receive the same concession in future.

Although Sri Lankan courts give death penalty in serious crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking, no executions have been carried out since 1976.

All death penalty cases have been commuted to life in prison.

Sri Lanka last year decided to vote in favor of a UN resolution for moratorium on death penalty.

Source: Business Standard, April 26, 2016

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