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

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…

Arkansas Death Row Inmate's Sister: 'Why Can't I Witness my Brother's Execution?'

Lynn Scott, the sister of Arkansas death row inmate Jack Jones, Jr.
Lynn Scott, the sister of Arkansas death row inmate Jack Jones, Jr.
Jack Jones' sister says she wants to be there for her brother in his final hour.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) - Lynn Scott, the sister of Arkansas death row inmate Jack Jones, Jr., has been denied a request to witness the execution of her brother, who is scheduled to die April 24.

In an interview with freelance journalist Deborah Robinson, Scott said the Department of Corrections does not allow the family of those being executed to witness their loved one's executions. She said, "There’s absolutely nobody there for him. He’s just gonna die. He’s gonna be murdered at the hands of the state with nobody there except for people wanting to watch him die. That’s just so cruel."

An excerpt of the interview concerning Scott's request to witness her brother's execution can be found here.

The full interview with Scott covers a wide range of issues as it relates to her brother's execution. She discusses Jones' childhood, what they discuss when she visits, his suicide attempts, the victim's family, and Jones' desire for his life to be over.

The transcript of the interview (Courtesy of Freelance Journalist Deborah Robinson) is below.

"I think of it as if any loved one of mine was in their final days, whether they were in a hospital bed, in hospice, or wherever, you would want to be with your loved one to the end. No matter how it’s going to happen it doesn’t take away the fact that I want to be there with Jack to the end. As gruesome as it may sound to someone, he’s my brother and I can’t walk away from him. Knowing that the witnesses that will be peering through the glass at him have a different mindset than I would, it hurts to know that there’s nobody there at that time that truly cares about Jack. I would want him to know that there’s someone right there that truly loves him to the end. I know that I will be praying for a shield of protection for what I might see that might haunt me for the rest of my life. But I think the guilt of not being there would actually be worse than being there. I just don’t think it’s fair that the inmate’s families, it’s almost like we’re treated as though we don’t care, we don’t have a voice. It’s hard to think that someone thinks that we cannot be there for our loved ones if we choose to be. It’s tough.
There standard answer every time this happens is the warden of the prison is the one that sets the program for what will take place, who will come, how it’s done. Basically, they see no forthcoming changes to their procedures. It’s not a state law, it’s not anything. It falls solely in the hands of the warden.
In the past, I have told them that Arkansas is one of the only states that does not allow the inmate’s family to witness the execution of their loved ones. I understand the need to separate the inmate’s families from the victim’s families, I solely understand that. Every other prison I’ve talked to, I’ve talked to wardens at other prisons, and they have a system where the families are totally separate. They bring them in at separate times. They put them in separate spaces. But these wardens understand the need of these inmate’s families to be a part of it, just as the victims are. That’s what I just don’t understand is how we can be overlooked and not even being thought of.
Nobody’s called me to tell me what’s going to happen. It’s me making the phone calls. I understand what’s going on there. There’s seven, possibly eight that’s gonna take place so I know that there’s this mad craziness going on there. Every time I call, it breaks my heart. I can just hear it in all their voices. The strain that’s on them. I don’t want to take away from that but at the same time, I want to be heard. And I feel like I’m being ignored. I’m trying to be as kind as possible and taking everyone’s feelings into consideration, but I’m a victim as well.
Somebody on April 24th is going to kill my brother and I’m trying to prepare for that. How do you prepare for that? You just can’t. I just have to do the best I can and do what I feel in my heart is right. This is nothing I asked for. I just want some consideration, that’s all.
I just don’t like the secrecy. I was told the last time that they would put me out on the corner in the tent with the media and I would hear from it at the same time that the media heard about it and I just don’t think that’s fair. What are they trying to hide from me? I should be able to see the same thing that the people on that side get to see. That’s my brother. I don’t understand why I can’t be a part of that.
He has no one else. My mother passed away in 2010. My father lives in Ohio. He’s so ill we don’t even know if he’ll make it through the end of the year. He just had another heart attack a week ago and had stints put in. He can’t even travel. There’s absolutely nobody there for him. He’s just gonna die. He’s gonna be murdered at the hands of the state with nobody there except for people wanting to watch him die. That’s just so cruel. So why can’t one person who loves him that wants to be there, I just don’t understand. Why the secrecy?"

Source: Arkansas Matters, Ellen Lampe, April 19, 2017

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