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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…

New Philippine Congress opens with death penalty at top of agenda

Rodrigo Duterte
Rodrigo Duterte
The newly convened Philippine Congress heard a proposal on Tuesday to re-impose the death penalty for "heinous crimes", giving priority to President Rodrigo Duterte's push for capital punishment in its first legislative session.

The death penalty bill was received the same day Duterte took office on June 30, and it cites illicit sales and use of drugs as the root cause of "the most perverse and atrocious crimes".

Introduced by two lawmakers, including a house speaker allied with Duterte, the bill cites the need for a war on crime and argues that existing laws were not a deterrent and had "emasculated" the criminal justice system.

The death penalty was repealed in 2006 following pressure from church groups.

The bill comes as Duterte's war on crime is in full swing, with at least 200 people killed in the past month, according to police, who say many of the deaths are the work of vigilantes.

Other estimates of the body count are far higher and human rights groups are outraged.

Duterte's vow to wipe out crime and drugs by the end of the year resonated among millions of Filipinos when he campaigned for election on threats to kill drug dealers who refused to surrender and dump their bodies in Manila Bay.

He will not get everything his way, however, with the bill calling for lethal injection as a method of administering the punishment. Duterte had called for death by hanging, which he described graphically during speeches.

Source: Reuters, July 26, 2016

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

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