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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…

Philippines: Pacquiao champions return of death penalty

Sen. Manny Pacquiao
Senator Manny Pacquiao
MANILA, Philippines -- Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Monday took the Senate floor to push for the reimposition of the death penalty, saying the Bible allows it and that it will benefit millions of Filipinos by punishing those in the drug trade.

Pacquiao, in his first privilege speech as a senator, said that he has filed a bill to impose the death penalty and to increase penalties on specific heinous crimes. He said the measure will address the country's drug problem, which he said "gets worse every day."

He said that he saw the effects of illegal drugs on society growing up in General Santos City and when he moved to Manila before becoming a champion boxer.

He said that the although the Philippines has repealed the death penalty law, it has not abolished death penalty itself.

"[The] death penalty is lawful, moral and sanctioned governmental action. Having read the Bible on a regular basis, I am convinced that God is not just a god of mercy but he is also a god of justice. So, on the issue of death penalty I could not help but consult the Bible," he said before citing scripture that seemingly justifies the deaths of those who have killed others.

Pacquiao said, citing 2015 data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, said that 11,309 of 42,029 -- or 26.91 percent -- of the country's barangays are considered drug affected. He said the numbers are worse in the National Capital Region, where 92 percent of barangays were considered drug affected as of June this year.

He said that penalties for drug-related crimes are too low to deter drug lords, traffickers, pushers and protectors.

"We must speak to these criminal minds in the only language they understand. They must understand that our government will put a stop to impunity. They have profited from thousands upon thousands of Filipino youths. It must stop now," he said.

He said that there must be "more teeth in the law penalizing drug-related activities but let us not disregard the rights of suspects to a fair trial."

The reimposition of the death penalty is among the priority legislation of the Duterte administration, which has allies in the majority blocs and the leadership of both Houses of Congress.

Critics of the death penalty, including the Commission on Human Rights, say that it does not work as a deterrent against crime, is a form of cruel and unusual punishment, and unfairly penalizes poor respondents who cannot afford the best defense lawyers.

Answering questions from Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who pointed out that the death penalty can be considered "anti-poor", Pacquiao said that while that may be true, he said that the Duterte administration is for the poor and that there is nothing to worry about.

He earlier said that citizens should not fear the death penalty because it is reserved for those who commit heinous crimes.

Source: philstar.com, August 8, 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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