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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: PM Changes His Mind on Death Sentences for Rapists

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has now decided he does not support calls for the death penalty for rapists.

Only last month he ordered the legal community and judiciary to ensure that convicted rapists are sentenced to death saying, 'foreign countries tackle rape cases by resorting to capital punishment.' He asked 'is it possible in Thailand? The judicial sector must undertake this.'

Since then, and in the wake of the murder of a young teacher in Saraburi, there has been public support for the idea. And calls for the Criminal Code to be amended to reflect this and condemn those guilty of rape to death. But now the Prime Minister says he does not support this idea anymore.

He has explained that many countries have repealed laws such as this as they have been shown not to act as an effective deterrent. 'Let's look at the world around us,' he said. 'Many countries have already abolished the death penalty. They do not 'promote respect for the law and in solving the problem at hand in a sustainable fashion.'

The leader of the Thai military has warned that the death penalty for rape cases may result in an abuse of power and would rather see convicted rapists exposed to social pressures in order to discourage them from committing similar crimes again.

He might have added that long jail sentences could also discourage such repeated offences.

The Deputy Prime Minister, and Defence Minister General, Prawit Wongsuwan, has only said that public opinion and legal counsel from experts will need to be taken into account when a final decision is taken by the National Legislative Assembly.

Source: Pattaya News, July 5, 2016

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