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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…

Thailand's PM calls for death penalty for rapists

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
PRIME Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday ordered the legal community and judiciary to ensure that convicted rapists are sentenced to death.

"Foreign countries tackle rape cases by resorting to capital punishment," the prime minister said.

"Is it possible in Thailand? The judicial sector must undertake this.''

Prayut added that he also wanted legislators to review the punishment of suspects who are accused of serious crimes, which if prosecuted will create far-reaching consequences for the public.

"Is it possible that we impose heavier punishment for offenders in serious crimes? Some offences carry only Bt1,000 to Bt2,000 fines.

"This is not right because the country has to spend resources in putting these cases through trial of hundreds of thousands to millions [of baht],'' he said.

Prayut made the remarks on the occasion of world Anti-Human Trafficking Day while presiding over an awards presentation ceremony for officials who have succeeded in prosecuting offenders in human trafficking cases.

The PM said he wanted officials to take proactive measures to prevent crimes, not only reward officers who made arrests.

"But I admit some problems like prostitution are caused by poverty as no one wants to become a prostitute. We arrest offenders who are poor and they have nothing to eat. Why do we have to do it? We have to set everything right,'' Prayut said.

He added that the government aimed to achieve a 90-per-cent success rate in the fight against human trafficking, which would signal that the country was almost crime-free.

"To achieve this goal, one country cannot solve the problem," Prayut said. "We must build up a network and seek cooperation with Asean countries to prevent the problem at upstream, middle-stream and downstream levels."

Source: The Nation, June 7, 2016

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