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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…

It is not for West to decide reintroduction of death penalty: President Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey will decide whether or not to reinstate the death penalty, not the West, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Nov. 12.

"The issue on the reintroduction of death penalty is also on the government's agenda. I said 'I, as the president, will approve the decision after the parliament decides.' The West cannot make decision regarding this, but we can," Erdogan said speaking during the funeral ceremony of Muhammet Fatih Safiturk, the district governor of the southeastern province of Mardin's Derik, who was killed in an outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) attack on Nov. 11.

"The forgiver of crimes committed against the person is not the state but heirs. This is not a crime committed against the state. The state can forgive crimes committed against it and that is another issue. However, the only forgiveness authority is heirs in crimes against the person. Therefore, what George or Hans say does not concern us. What concerns us is what the God says," the president added.

Amid the ongoing discussions on the reintroduction of death penalty in the country, a progression report by the European Commission on Nov. 9 noted that the rejection of the death penalty was an essential element, expressing the Union's concern on the issue.

"Regarding the renewed considerations to introduce a bill in parliament to reinstate the death penalty, the EU recalls that the unequivocal rejection of the death penalty is an essential element of the EU acquis and a central international obligation to which Turkey has committed," the report said.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said a "limited measure" could be drafted to restore the death penalty, which was formally abandoned in 2002, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterating that he would approve such a measure if parliament backed it.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News, November 13, 2016

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