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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…

Virginia: Hundreds of faith leaders call for veto of "electric chair" bill

Three local faith leaders are among more than 300 who are calling on Governor Terry McAuliffe to veto the "electric chair" bill.

House Bill 815 says that if lethal injection cannot be used to execute an inmate because of a lack of the necessary drugs, then the inmate shall be executed by electrocution.

According to a release, the group of interfaith clergy says it believes "the death penalty is wrong, ineffective, born of a mistaken conception of justice."

Reverend Eric Liles, Reverend Joshua Andrzejewski and Reverend Diana Brawley are among the hundreds of faith leaders calling on McAuliffe to veto the bill.

"At the heart of the Christian faith is a belief in redemption and a rejection of cruelty. Resurrecting a brutal killing machine such as the electric chair violates these values," said Richard Cizik, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good in Fredericksburg. "Gov. McAuliffe has no moral choice but to veto this bill."

Pope Francis has spoken on the Catholic Church's opposition to the death penalty, saying it shouldn't be used no matter how serious the crime that was committed.

He also proclaimed 2016 the Year of Mercy.

The faith leaders are urging McAuliffe to honor the teachings of his Catholic faith, which says execution by the state would violate the sanctity of life.

Source: newsplex.com, April 8, 2016

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