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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…

Schizophrenia ‘not a mental illness’, says Pakistan Supreme Court

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has today ruled that schizophrenia does not qualify as mental disorder, paving the way for the execution of Imdad Ali who suffers from severe mental illness.

In an unprecedented judgement, they claim that schizophrenia is not a permanent condition and varied according to the “level of stress”.

They claimed that “it is, therefore, a recoverable disease, which, in all the cases, does not fall within the definition of “mental disorder” as defined in the Mental Health Ordinance, 2001.”

In seeking to justify their case, the judges made reference to an outdated Indian case from the 1980s, which said that “‘schizophrenia’ is what Schizophrenia does.”

Mr Ali has been previously diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and a 2013 medical report stated him to be “insane.” Sentenced to death in 2008 over a shooting, Imdad lost his final appeal last year.

He came within hours of being hanged last month, before his wife filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. A medical assessment conducted at the jail last month by Dr Tahir Feroze Khan noted that Mr Ali was suffering from “active psychosis” and that his illness appeared to be “treatment resistant”.

The latest ruling means Mr Ali could face the gallows as early as Wednesday 26th October.

Maya Foa, a director of Reprieve, said:

“It is outrageous for Pakistan’s Supreme Court to claim that schizophrenia is not a mental illness, and flies in the face of accepted medical knowledge, including Pakistan’s own mental health laws. It is terrifying to think that a mentally ill man like Imdad Ali could now hang because judges are pretending that schizophrenia is not a serious condition. Pakistan’s President needs to urgently intervene to stop this sickening attempt to hang Imdad.”

  • More information about Imdad Ali is available on the Reprieve website.
  • A copy of the Supreme Court judgement is available on request.


Source: Reprieve, October 20, 2016

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