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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…

Jordan executes 15 people, including 10 on terrorism charges

Country restored capital punishment by hanging in 2014 after eight year moratorium

Jordan executed 15 people on Saturday, including 10 convicted on terrorism charges, government spokesman Mohammad al Momani said.

Momani said those executed included one man who was convicted of an attack last year on an intelligence compound that killed five security personnel.

Another five were involved in an assault by security forces on a militant hideout in Irbid city in the same year that led to the death of seven militants and one police officer, while the rest related to separate incidents that go back as far as 2003.

The five other executions were for rape and sexual assault.

Jordan restored the death sentence by hanging in 2014 after a moratorium on capital punishment between 2006 and 2014.

The executed included those convicted for the attacks on the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad in 2003, on tourists at the Roman amphitheatre in the capital Amman in 2006, on intelligence officers in the Baqaa refugee camp in 2016, and the killing of writer Nahid Hattar, also last year, Mr Momani told the Petra news agency.

King Abdullah II had said in 2005 that Jordan aimed to become the first Middle Eastern country to halt executions in line with most European countries.

Courts continued to hand down death sentences but they were not carried out.

But public opinion blamed a rise in crime on the policy and in December 2014 Jordan hanged 11 men convicted of murder, drawing criticism from human rights groups.

Opinion hardened after the murder by the Islamic State group of captured Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh whose plane had crashed in a jihadist-held region of Syria in December 2014 while serving with a US-led coalition.

Grisly footage posted in February the following year of him being burnt alive in a cage outraged the public.

Swiftly afterwards, Jordan hanged two people convicted of terrorism offences, one of them Sajida al-Rishawi.

She had taken part in a 2005 suicide attack on luxury hotels in Amman organised by IS's forebear, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, but her explosives failed to detonate.

Sources: The Guardian, BBC News, Agence France-Presse, Reuters, March 4, 2017

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