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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…

Georgia conservatives want to ‘re-think’ death penalty

Georgia's death chamber
Georgia's death chamber
A group of Georgia conservatives on Thursday will call for the state to re-examine the death penalty but thus far will stop short of calling for a end to state-sanctioned executions.

The group, calling itself Georgia Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Thursday. 

The organization includes Rep. Brett Harrell, R-Snellville.

“I am skeptical of our government’s ability to implement efficient and effective programs, and so a healthy skepticism of our state’s death penalty is warranted,” Harrell said in a statement. “Many individuals have been wrongly convicted and sentenced to die. Meanwhile, taxpayers are forced to pay for this risky government program, even though it costs far more than life without parole.”

Group spokesman Jon Crane said Thursday’s event “is the state of the process of educating people about the problems with the death penalty and to have a candid discussion from a conservative perspective.”

There is not yet, he said, a call for repeal.

Georgia executed more prisoners in 2016 than any other state in the nation, although it’s been nearly three years since a Georgia defendant was sentenced to death.

Other members of the group meeting Thursday include David Burge, former 5th District Republican Party chair, Richard Lorenc, chief operating officer of Foundations for Economic Freedom, Austin Paul, co-chair of the Mercer University College Republicans, Jennifer Maffessanti, chair of the Atlanta chapter of America’s Future Foundation and Marc Hyden, national coordinator of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.

Source: ajc.com, Aaron Gould Sheinin, January 17, 2017

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