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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…

Death penalty in Turkey would mean end to EU accession talks: Juncker

BERLIN — The European Union should continue accession negotiations with Turkey but a reintroduction of the death penalty would clearly put an end to the process, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday.

Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of a campaign for EU membership.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said he will approve its reinstatement if parliament submits such a proposal or if the measure is backed in a referendum.

“I am not of the opinion that the accession negotiations with Turkey should be stopped now,” Juncker said in Berlin during a debate with students about the future of Europe.

Juncker offers a warning


European officials should still try to convince Turkey that it was in its own interest to adopt reforms and move towards Europe instead of turning away from the continent and its values, Juncker said.

“If Turkey will ever become a member state, I do not know,” Juncker said.

He said he recently made clear in a long conversation with Erdogan that a reintroduction of the death penalty in Turkey would be a red line in accession talks.

“I told him: If you reintroduce the death penalty, then it's time to end,” Juncker said.

Tensions are high


Tensions between Turkey and the EU are high over rights and security issues, but the bloc depends on the help of NATO ally Ankara on migration and the conflict in Syria.

After meeting European Council President Donald Tusk and Juncker last week in Brussels, Erdogan was quoted as saying he had been presented with a new 12-month timetable for renewing ties.

Source: Reuters, May 31, 2017

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