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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…

Taiwan 'moving toward' abolishing death penalty

Taiwan
The Ministry of Justice yesterday responded to EU calls to abolish capital punishment by saying that Taiwan's justice system is moving toward that goal in the long term, adding that a high percentage of Taiwanese still favor the death penalty for certain crimes.

Taiwan, China, Japan and the US were among the nations criticized in the Council of the EU's Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2015, which was released on Monday.

The report said that 101 countries have abolished the death penalty, as the EU reaffirmed "its opposition to the death penalty and use of all diplomatic tools at its disposal to advance the cause of worldwide abolition."

"The EU deplored the continuing use of the death penalty in various parts of the world: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Belarus, Egypt, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and the USA were a particular focus of attention," it added, as the EU urged these nations to abolish capital punishment. Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang yesterday said the ministry's ultimate goal is to abolish capital punishment in Taiwan, "but current public surveys indicate that 82 % of the people are against abolition of the death penalty."

Chen said the ministry has undertaken 4 measures toward this long-term objective: ending legal requirements for "mandatory capital punishment" for certain crimes; taking steps for the judiciary to deliberate on "discretionary capital punishment"; handing out the death penalty with extreme prudence; and carrying out the death penalty with extreme prudence.

"We are currently reviewing and assessing this issue," Chen said. "The ministry will take very careful approaches on handling this issue and carrying out the death penalty, before our nation has formally abolished it," Chen said.

Other judicial officials said that the ministry is still responsible for policies on the death penalty, and that the nation's laws still retain the death penalty.

Source: Taipei Times, June 22, 2016

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