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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…

Stop executions and abolish the death penalty - Malaysian Bar

The Malaysian Bar is deeply troubled that 2 persons - Yong Kar Mun, aged 48, and an individual whose identity has not been reported - were executed by hanging at Sungai Buloh Prison yesterday morning. The prison authorities there had written to the family of Yong Kar Mun on May 19, 2017 to inform them that he would be hanged to death soon, and that they could pay him a final visit on May 23, 2017.

Yong Kar Mun had been convicted under Section 3 of the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971 for discharging a firearm when committing a robbery, and the mandatory death penalty was meted out.

The Malaysian Bar is appalled that the 2 executions yesterday bring the total of reported executions this year to 4: Rames Batumalai, aged 44, and his brother Suthar Batumalai, aged 39, were reportedly executed at Kajang Prison on March 15, 2017.

Every individual has an inherent right to life - as enshrined in Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution - which is absolute, universal and inalienable, irrespective of any crimes that have been committed.

We do not condone or excuse any crimes that have been committed. There is no denying that guilty persons ought to receive punishment, and justice must be served. However, to be just and effective, punishment must always be proportionate to the gravity of offences committed, and the State must never resort to taking a human life. Furthermore, studies have shown that there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty.

The death penalty is an extreme, abhorrent and inhumane punishment, and must not be taken lightly, as it is irreversible.

The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Government to act swiftly to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, stop executions, and commute each death sentence to one of life imprisonment.

Source: themalaymailonline.com, May 25, 2017. This statement is submitted by George Varughese, president of the Malaysian Bar.

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