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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…

Iran: 250 Executions So Far In 2016

Public hanging in Mashhad, May 17, 2016
Public hanging in Mashhad, May 17, 2016
Iran Human Rights (26 JULY 2016): According to a report published by Iran Human Rights (IHR), Iranian authorities have executed at least 250 people between January 1 and July 20 of this year. This represents an average of more than one execution each day. Still, the execution numbers so far in 2016 are significantly lower than the numbers for the same period in 2015.

Last year, Iranian authorities executed more than 700 people in the first seven months of the year. The execution numbers for the whole year were more than 969, the highest in more than 25 years.

"Despite the significant reduction in the number of executions compared to the last two years, Iran remains on top of the list of executioners after China. Moreover, there is no indication that the reduction in the number of executions so far is due to a change of policy by the Iranian authorities. The numbers are lower than last year most probably because of the parliamentary elections in February and March of this year and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in June," says Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson for Iran Human Rights.

IHR's analysis of the execution trends in Iran shows the number of executions as normally very low in the month of Ramadan, the weeks around the Iranian New Year (March 20) and in the weeks before the parliamentary and presidential elections.

"More than 40 executions were carried out in the first three weeks of July, and we are concerned the executions will further increase in the coming months. We call on the international community and all countries with diplomatic relations with Iran to put the situation of the death penalty in Iran on top of the agenda in their bilateral talks with the Iranian authorities," says Amiry-Moghaddam.

According to IHR's report, as in the past years, drug offenses and murder charges count for the majority of the executions carried out so far this year. Iranian authorities continue their practice of executing people in public places in front of ordinary citizens, including children. There are also several possible minor offenders among those executed so far in 2016; IHR is investigating further into these cases.

Some facts from IHR's recent report on executions between January 1 and July 20 2016:
  • 45% of the executions were reported by official Iranian sources
  • 47% of the executions were due to drug-related charges
  • 39% of the executions were for murder charges
  • 19 people were hanged in public spaces

It is important to emphasize that IHR is still investigting some of the execution reports, which have not been included here due to lack of sufficient details.

Source: Iran Human Rights, July 26, 2016

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