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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…

China "strictly controls death penalty:" white paper

Rehearsing execution procedure in China
Rehearsing execution procedure in China
BEIJING, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- China strictly controls the death penalty and employs it with prudence, said a white paper on judical protection of human rights issued on Monday.

The white paper, titled "New Progress in the Judicial Protection of Human Rights in China," said China's stand on the death penalty is to ensure that it applies only to a very small number of extremely serious criminal offenders.

China in 2011 adopted the Amendment (VIII) to the Criminal Law which abolishes the death penalty for 13 economy-related, non-violent offenses.

The Amendment (IX) to the Criminal Law, adopted in 2015, also reduced the number of crimes for capital punishment, abolishing the death penalty for nine areas of crime. It also extended the possibility of reprieve in cases of capital sentence.

In death penalty cases, the defendant's right to defense and other legitimate rights and interests are fully protected, as hearings are held for all death penalty cases of second instance, the white paper said.

When the Supreme People's Court reviews a death penalty case, it focuses on interrogating the defendant in accordance with the law, and listening to opinions of the defense counsel, according to the white paper.

It also said China took special actions against human trafficking and made important progress in combating trafficking in women and children.

A mechanism for quickly searching for missing children has been put in place around the country, under which police resources are fully mobilized to quickly find missing children, it said.

A uniform operation of thorough search and investigation for children of unknown origin has been carried out nationwide, in which DNA information of children suspected of being the victims of abduction is collected and recorded into a national DNA database for comparison.

Source: Xinhua, Sept. 12, 2016

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