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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…

Catholic Church criticizes Indonesia’s retention of death penalty

Catholic Church leaders in Indonesia have deplored the nation’s rejection of the abolition of the death penalty in the southeast Asian nation. 

Abolishing the death penalty was one of the recommendations put to Indonesia by member states at the 27th session of the U.N. Universal Period Review in Geneva, Switzerland. 

 Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, who led the Indonesian delegation, rejected the recommendation, saying the death penalty was an integral part of President Joko Widodo's fight against narcotics, which she said was one of the top-three causes of death among Indonesian youths.

Father Paulus Siswantoko of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral Care of Migrants of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Indonesia (KWI) said the government's insistence on keeping the death penalty shows its failure to handle drug-related crimes. 

The government has often argued the death penalty is a deterrent, but this is not the case, he said. "Drug-related crimes and serious violence continue to occur unabated," the priest said.

Teguh Budiono, from the Community of Sant'Egidio, a Catholic lay group, said retaining the death penalty will perpetuate a culture of violence in society. "Instead of providing a deterrent effect, this practice will only provide an affirmation of the passion of revenge," he said.

Source: Vatican Radio, May 15, 2017

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