FEATURED POST

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

Image
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…

California eases conditions at death row disciplinary unit

California's death row
California's death row
California will no longer keep death row inmates in solitary confinement for years only because of their purported gang affiliations, according to a lawsuit settlement announced Monday.

6 San Quentin State Prison inmates sued in 2015, saying they were being held indefinitely under inhumane and degrading conditions in what prison officials call the "adjustment center." 1 inmate had been there for 26 years and 2 others for more than a decade when the lawsuit was filed.

About 100 inmates were held when the lawsuit was filed. The number had recently dropped to less than 10, although the corrections department said Monday that it has since increased to 22 inmates.

"I think that this settlement provides for a more humane treatment of prisoners who are in that very difficult situation, facing the death penalty," said Dan Siegel, an Oakland-based attorney who filed the lawsuit.

Inmates can still be sent to the windowless cells if they are considered an immediate danger to the prison or others, or if they have at least 3 infractions within 5 years for offenses including fighting or possessing drugs or cellphones. The length of their disciplinary sentences can be increased by 1/2 if they are gang members.

But the maximum length of time in the adjustment center is 5 years, with a review every 6 months to see if they can be released. They also can have certain property taken away as punishment for no more than 90 days, according to the settlement obtained by The Associated Press before it was filed in federal court.

The adjustment center is 1 of 3 units in the nation's largest death row, which has 749 condemned inmates.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had already changed its policies and none of the plaintiffs are in the center anymore, spokeswoman Vicky Waters said.

The lawsuit is patterned after a class-action lawsuit that the state settled in September 2015. California agreed then to end its unlimited isolation of imprisoned gang leaders, a practice that once kept hundreds of inmates in isolation for a decade or longer.

"The safety of California prisons in terms of risks to staff and other prisoners has really not been enhanced by keeping people in solitary," Siegel said.

The state will pay inmates" attorneys $245,000 under the agreement.

Source: Associated Press, March 7, 2017

⏩ Related content: Buried Alive: Stories From Inside Solitary Confinement, March 2, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

New Hampshire: More than 50,000 anti-death penalty signatures delivered to Sununu

Texas: The accused Santa Fe shooter will never get the death penalty. Here’s why.

Post Mortem – the execution of Edward Earl Johnson

What Indiana officials want to keep secret about executions

China: Appeal of nanny's death penalty sentence wraps up

Ohio: Lawyers seek review of death sentence for 23-year-old Clayton man

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

Texas prisons taking heat over aging execution drugs experts say could cause 'torturous' deaths

Texas executes Juan Castillo

Iraq court sentences Belgian jihadist to death for IS membership