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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…

Turkey: Erdogan Renews Call for the Death Penalty

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his support for the death penalty, saying its reinstatement would fulfill the wishes of the Turkish majority.

At a rally Sunday in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, Erdogan told hundreds of people his remarks were also directed at members of the Turkish parliament.

"I am now conveying your request once again," Erdogan said of the death penalty. "They should assess this issue and make a decision. I would approve that decision."

Erdogan, who traveled to Gaziantep to express condolences to the families of the 54 people who were killed last weekend at a Kurdish wedding, has pushed to reinstate the death penalty in the wake of last month's failed coup against him.

Erdogan's calls for its reinstatement have become more frequent since the July 15 coup attempt as he carries out a massive purge of those suspected of taking part it in it.

The purge has mostly targeted members of the military, police and intelligence services, journalists, and academics belonging to the outlawed movement headed by cleric Fethullah Gulen, a U.S. resident. Tens of thousands have been arrested or suspended from their jobs.

Amnesty International has urged Erdogan to exercise restraint as he pushes to legalize executions in the country for the first time since 2004. The human rights group has said it is “alarmed” by his calls for capitol punishment, which the group sees as a clear suggestion that the death penalty would be used to punish those responsible for the coup attempt.

More than 200 people were killed in the failed coup, some of them by mutinying soldiers who fired at civilians taking to the streets to stop the coup.

Source: VOA, August 28, 2016

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