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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…

Indonesia: "Death penalty has no deterrent effect"

The number of drug convicts keeps rising despite the implementation of the death penalty, showing that capital punishment is not that effective in fighting drug-related crime, activists have said.

At least 16 NGOs grouped in the Anti-Death Penalty Civil Society Coalition told a press conference that the death penalty was not the solution to address crime in Indonesia, especially crime related to drugs.

The coalition's statement comes ahead of the third round of executions of drug convicts, which many expect to be conducted very soon.

Indonesian Drug Victim Advocacy Brotherhood ( PKNI ) head Totok Yulianto said there had been a rise in the number of drug convicts despite the executions carried out in 2015.

Under the administration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, the government has conducted 2 rounds of executions.

6 death row inmates were executed on Jan.18 last year, followed by 8 more in the 2nd round on April 29, 2015.

Totok said there were 65,566 drug convicts recorded in January 2015, adding that that number had rose to 67,808 people by May 2015.

"Even though the government had carried out executions in January and April. This shows that the death penalty does not create a deterrent effect. This is data from the directorate general of corrections," Totok said, as quoted by Kompas.com on Wednesday.

Impartial director Al Araf said punishment in the modern era no longer followed the principle of retaliation; rather, it was aimed at correcting the behavior of someone who has broken the law.

"We do not support criminal acts at all. We reject the death penalty and instead lean more toward life sentencing, because the death penalty clearly violates human rights principles," he said.

Given the nation's fragile justice system, procedural violations in the implementation of the death penalty were still common, Araf added.

Citing the example of Zainal Abidin's case, whose appeal was rejected almost immediately, Araf suggested this was because the convict, found guilty of possessing 58.7 kilograms of marijuana in 2000, had already been listed in the second round of executions.

"Just imagine, the legal process hadn't yet finished, and when he lodged his appeal it was rejected within 4 days. This is clearly outside of the principles of justice," he added.

Meanwhile, police have said the 3rd round of executions was ready to be carried out in May 2016. The firing squad has been prepared for the execution of 15 drug convicts.

The Central Java police, in charge of Nusakambangan prison island where the convicts will be executed, said it was awaiting instructions from Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo.

So far, the Attorney General's Office has not disclosed the execution date or the identities of the convicts.

Source: The Jakarta Post, May 12, 2016


Joko Widodo supports calls for chemical castration, death penalty for rape offenders

The young girl from Sumatra was allegedly gang raped as she walked home from school in April.

This week 7 teenagers were sentenced to 10 years in prison for the crime, but the government said it wanted the death penalty and chemical castration to be punishment options in the future.

Sexual violence against women is rampant in Indonesia, with 35 cases reported every day, according to the national commission.

In April, when the school girl was brutally raped and murdered, there was barely a word in the Indonesian press.

But now an intensified outcry from a nation belatedly shocked has led the Indonesian government to revise its laws.

"The jail term should be up to a life sentence," said the Minister for Law and Human Rights, Yasonna Laoly.

"But if the victim is dead the punishment option will be up to the death sentence.

"Also if the victim becomes disabled the death sentence should be an option."

Another inclusion in the law could be chemical castration of alleged offenders, with the full support of the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo.

"I want to give a warning about sexual violence against children," Mr Widodo said.

"I want this to be considered an extraordinary crime, so the handling of it would also be in an extraordinary way."

The changes could come into force as early as today, with presidential rather than parliamentary approval needed.

But human rights groups said the new punishment proposals were a dangerous step.

Haris Azhar, from the NGO Kontras, said from the human rights point of view he thought they would be barbaric punishments.

"We need to have a very correct and - sometimes people here, we call it hard or heavy punishment - but this does not necessarily need to be a barbaric punishment," he said.

The new proposals come as Indonesia prepares for the next round of executions of convicted drug traffickers.

It is not clear when the next group will face the firing squad or how many people it will include.

Source: abc.net.au, May 12, 2016

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