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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…

Pfizer Ban on Execution Drugs Won't Impede Death Penalty in Indiana

State's death row inmates still have years of appeals ahead; state has said it has stockpile of needed chemicals

The world's largest pharmaceutical company is blocking the use of its drugs for executions. But it's unclear how that will affect Indiana.

Pfizer was the last FDA-approved drugmaker which still sold the chemicals used for lethal injection. That's the only execution method allowed by Indiana law -- it would take legislative action to bring back the electric chair or some other method.

But Indiana said 2 years ago it had a stockpile of execution drugs, and the state hasn't executed anyone since. 

The Department of Correction said then it had even assisted other states who were having difficulty as the market tightened.

Some states have turned to less-regulated compounding pharmacies, or tried to import drugs from overseas.

Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Chairman Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) says at some point, legislators should probably authorize an alternate method. He says no one anticipated supply-chain problems when the state switched to lethal injection in 1995. But he says there's no rush. None of the 12 killers on Indiana's death row is anywhere close to an execution date -- only 2 have progressed as far as a federal appeals court. And Young says any attempt to tweak the law would likely trigger a fierce debate over whether Indiana should abolish the death penalty entirely.

Indiana hasn't executed anyone since 2009, when Matthew Wrinkles of Evansville was put to death for the murders of his wife and 2 of his in-laws.

Source: WIBC news, May 17, 2016

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