In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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…

New Zealander Peter Gardner facing death sentence for smuggling 30kgs of meth begins third year in Chinese jail

Peter Gardner
Peter Gardner
A Kiwi facing the death penalty for attempting to smuggle 30 kilograms of methamphetamine out of China will begin his 3rd year in jail without knowing his fate.

And Peter Gardner will have to wait for at least another 3 months after the Chinese court deliberating his fate had extended his detention to 25 January 2017.

His lawyer Craig Tuck said Gardner was holding up as best as could be expected under the circumstances.

"There is no indication about how long this will continue or when a decision will be made.

"He is deeply grateful for the love and support of his family and friends. The situation is extremely difficult for his family and they seek to maintain their privacy until this matter is resolved."

Gardner, a Kiwi and Australian citizen, was stopped from boarding his Sydney-bound China Southern flight from Guangzhou in November with travelling companion Kalynda Davis, after customs officials detected 30 kilograms of the drug methamphetamine, also commonly known as ice, in their bags. With a rough street value of $20 million, it was the biggest single haul of the drug ever seized at the airport.

In May, Gardner told a court in Guangzhou that he had been duped into being a drug mule by a sophisticated international smuggling syndicate.

"This is the biggest mistake of my life."

Gardner thought he was performance-enhancing peptides used by athletes.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesman said consular staff continued to visit Gardner regularly.

"Consular staff from the New Zealand Consulate-General in Guangzhou continue to provide advice to Mr Gardner and his family, and regularly visit to check on his well-being. Consular officials most recently visited Mr Gardner earlier this week."

He was detained on November 8, 2014, and for most of the past two years, he has shared a small cell with 20 other foreigners. Former prisoners have said the lights are kept on for 24 hours, no running water, and prisoners are fed 2 small portions of rice each day.

According to figures released earlier this year, there are an estimated 800 Kiwis in foreign prisons around the world.

Source: stuff.co.nz, October 30, 2016

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