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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…

'This bill will give us options': Mississippi on the verge of allowing execution by firing squad

Mississippi is considering the use of firing squads as an option for capital punishment as House Bill 638 makes its way to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, the Hattiesburg American reports.

The bill, "To Revise The Methods By Which The Death Penalty May Be Carried Out; And For Related Purposes," also includes lethal injection, nitrogen gas, and electrocution as means of execution to be considered before firing squads, in a line of succession if one is ruled unconstitutional.

The Senate adopted the bill on Tuesday and it is now in the process of being passed along to the governor. When it was first introduced, the bill had listed "firing squad" as the 3rd option, but was later removed by a Senate committee. The Mississippi House reinstated it.

Execution by firing squad is a form of capital punishment often used by the military at war. Its use in the military involves the detainee or prisoner standing or sitting in front of a wall, as military personnel line up and aim to shoot the individual in the heart.

Chairman of the House Judiciary B Committee, Andy Gipson said of the bill, "I have a constituent whose daughter was raped and killed 25 years ago and the person is still awaiting execution. If we want to have the death penalty, this bill will give us options."

In an earlier debate on the bill, Gipson told Rep. Chris Bell (D), who is also a Baptist minister, "I'm a big believer in mercy and grace. Unfortunately, the death penalty is necessary for those who commit atrocious crimes."

According to the report, Gov. Phil Bryant and Attorney General Jim Hood have expressed their approval of the bill.

Mississippi last executed a death row inmate in 2012. There are 47 remaining inmates on death row.

Source: rawstory.com, Erin Corbett, March 29, 2017

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