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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…

Lack of drugs latest obstacle for Nevada death penalty; new death chamber under construction at a cost of $858,000

Ely State Prison, Nevada
Ely State Prison, Nevada
LAS VEGAS — Nevada officials face yet another obstacle in carrying out the death penalty if they needed to do so.

One of the two drugs that make up a cocktail in the lethal injection has expired, and the pharmaceutical company that produces it refuses on principle to give the state any more.

The lack of drugs is another hurdle for a state that hasn't had a working execution chamber since 2011. 

A new chamber is under construction in Ely at a cost of $858,000 and should be ready on Nov. 1.

There are 80 people on the state's death row, but none have exhausted their appeals. 

Nevada hasn't had an execution since 2006.

Officials with the Nevada Department of Corrections say they're putting out requests for companies willing to supply lethal injection drugs.

The availability of execution drugs has become an issue in many death penalty states. Texas, by far the nation's most active one, began using a compounding pharmacy as its source when traditional pharmaceutical makers refused to sell their products to prison agencies to be used for executions.

Source: The Associated Press, August 21, 2016


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