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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…

Turkey: Erdogan says gov't should reinstate death penalty after April 16 referendum

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he believes the government should submit a draft on reinstating the death penalty in the event that the constitutional amendments are approved in the upcoming referendum on April 16.

"After April 16, with God's permission, the draft would be brought to parliament. If it passes in parliament, I will approve it," Erdogan said at a rally in the eastern province of Erzurum on April 12.

Although the death penalty has not been in effect since 1984, Turkey abolished the capital punishment in 2004 as a part of reforms to ease Turkey's accession into the European Union. 

The move was initiated by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and supported by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

But debates on reinstating the capital punishment were brought to discussion after the July 15, 2016, coup attempt. Erdogan vows the people's demand for the death penalty would be met. Calls for the death penalty were among the most recited chants in public rallies.

"April 16 will be the day to decide that," he said.

Erdogan said the reinstatement of the death penalty could be brought to the agenda with a consensus of all political parties.

"Mr.Kemal Kilicdaroglu [leader of the Republican People's Party - CHP] says he would approve it. I hope he will not deny it when time comes. Mr. Devlet Bahceli, [leader of the Nationalist Movement Party - MHP] already said yes. And Mr. Binali Yildirim [Prime Minister] is the same," he said, adding that it would be put to a referendum if it gets approved in parliament.

"To reinstate the death penalty there needs to be a constitutional amendment, but in an event that the parliament does not approve that, I am telling now, we will appeal to the public with a referendum just like we did for April 16. Let the public decide," he said.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News, April 13, 2017

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