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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…

Death Penalty: Amnesty International-Malaysia urges for better transparency from Pardons Board, Prisons Department

Death row: Be more transparent, Pardons Board, Prisons told

Amnesty International-Malaysia (AI-M) has urged for better transparency from the Pardons Board and the Prisons Department when it comes to the death penalty.

Speaking to FMT, AI-M Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu elaborated on her recent call for greater transparency in the use of the death penalty.

Shamini said at the moment, when the Pardons Board made a decision, it could go both ways, with an inmate either receiving clemency or being executed almost immediately.

Shamini said this was why better transparency was needed in how the Pardons Board and Prisons Department operated.

At present, due to a lack of transparency, inmates and families were not given sufficient notice, with some families being informed only 72 hours before an execution took place, making this a travesty of human rights.

Shamini said such short notice also meant a smaller window of opportunity for lawyers to file a last minute appeal or to present new evidence which could help change an inmate's fate.

Yesterday, Shamini called for greater transparency in the use of the death sentence after the handing over of birthday cards from Malaysians nationwide to Shahrul Izani Suparman, a death row inmate.

On Sept 25, 2003, Shahrul was arrested at a roadblock and police found 622g of cannabis, wrapped in 2 newspapers and placed in separate bags. He was sentenced to death on Dec 8, 2009.

The birthday cards effort was an initiative by Amnesty International Malaysia in conjunction with the 14th World Day Against Death Penalty, which falls on Oct 10 every year.

Shamini also supported a recent call by DAP lawmaker Ramkarpal Singh, who urged that the Pardons Board impose a time limit on clemency petitions for death row inmates as it was unfair to keep the condemned prisoners waiting as they languished on death row after exhausting all legal appeals.

Shamini said without a timeframe, death row inmates and their families were left in the lurch.

The Bukit Gelugor MP had voiced hope that the Pardons Board in every state would set a timeframe in deciding whether to approve petitions for clemency.

At present, there is no time limit for the board to dispose of such petitions.

The most recent execution in the country was that of former aircraft cabin cleaner Ahmad Najib Aris, who was hanged on Sept 23 for the murder of IT analyst Canny Ong Lay Kian in 2003 at Jalan Klang Lama, Petaling Jaya.

Source: freemalaysiatoday.com, October 13, 2016

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