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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…

Ready to Proceed With Executions, Pending Next Instructions: Indonesia's Justice Minister

Jakarta. All prisons in the notorious Nusakambangan Island are reportedly safe and ready to stage its third round of executions as several inmates on death-row have been moved there, Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said on Monday (25/07).

“The prisons are highly safe. We are ready to proceed with the executions pending Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo's instructions,” Yasonna said at his office in Jakarta, as reported by Antara news agency.

The minister declined to announce the date of the executions as he noted that the Attorney General's Office and Central Java Prosecutors' Office will do so when ready.

However, Yasonna confirmed that death-row inmates have been moved to Nusakambangan Island, saying that “it is part of their normal procedure.”

The inmates include convicted drug smugglers Merry Utami, an Indonesian, and Zulkifar Ali, a Pakistani national, who were moved to Batu Prison in Nusakambangan Island recently and were reportedly among those scheduled to be executed.

Although the exact number of death-row inmates in the third round of executions remain unclear, Prasetyo confirmed last month that the Indonesian government was going to execute 18 drug convicts this year, and 30 more in 2017. The third round of executions is scheduled to take place on the island, but Prasetyo has also not yet announced the exact date.

In 2015, despite repeated pleas for mercy from foreign governments and international organizations, Indonesia executed 14 people for drug trafficking – among them citizens of Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands and Nigeria.

It is generally understood that death-row inmates are moved to Nusakambangan Island days before they are executed by firing squad. They are held in isolation and receive counseling from religious guides, while the government fulfills their last wishes.

Source: Jakarta Globe, July 25, 2016


Nusakambangan prisons temporarily halt family visits as executions draw nearer

Visiting rights for family members of all prisoners on Nusakambangan prison island in Cilacap, Central Java, have reportedly been temporarily halted.

At Wijayapura Quay in Cilacap, a number of visitors who had come to visit their relatives in Nusakambangan were denied passage to the prison island on Monday, Kompas.com reported. They left Wijayapura Quay after meeting with officers at the crossing point security post.

One of the visitors, Nasiroh, 60, said she wanted to visit her son who is currently serving a sentence in Besi Prison. “The officers wouldn’t allow me to cross to the island. They said family visits to Nusakambangan would be temporarily closed for this whole week,” said Nasiroh, a resident of Sampang, Cilacap. She said none of the officers gave her clear information about the reason family visits had been temporary closed.

Information obtained from officials at the Wijayapura Quay reveals that a notification about the temporary closure of family visits had been delivered to families of prisoners since last week. But families were not given specific reasons for the closure, which will be in effect for one week starting from Monday.

It is suspected that the temporary closure of family visits is related to the executions of drug convicts, which will reportedly be conducted in the near future.

The closure of visiting time for families of prisoners on Nusakambangan prison island has always been conducted ahead the executions of death-row convicts, Antara news agency reported.

Merri Utami, a death-row inmate convicted of drug trafficking, has been moved to Nusakambangan. The Sukoharjo resident had been serving her sentence at the Tangerang Women’s Penitentiary in Banten since 2004 before she was moved to Nusakambangan under tight security escort at around 4:30 a.m. local time on Sunday. Merri was sentenced to death for being caught with 1.1 kilograms of heroin at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, in 2003.

Source: The Jakarta Post, July 25, 2016

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