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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…

USA: 19 States Have Outlawed the Death Penalty

Gathering signatures against the Nebraska death penalty repeal
Gathering signatures against the Nebraska death penalty repeal
Capital punishment is currently illegal in 19 states plus the District of Columbia.

During Election 2016, voters in 3 states showed support for the death penalty:

California. Voters rejected Proposition 62, which would have repealed the state's death penalty. This was the 2nd time in 4 years that California voters decided to keep the death penalty on the books.

In Nebraska, voters overturned an earlier decision by the state legislature to abolish capital punishment. Referendum 426 preserved the death penalty by repealing the legislature's 2015 motion to abolish capital punishment.

In Oklahoma, where capital punishment was already legal, voters approved State Question 776, which constitutionalized the death penalty.

Michigan was the 1st state to outlaw the death penalty, and they did so back in 1846. By 1911, only 3 other states had followed suit (Maine, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). No other states abolished the practice until 1957.

Since that time, there have been 3 waves of state bans on capital punishment. 

5 states acted between 1957 and 1965 (Alaska, Hawaii, Vermont, Iowa, and West Virginia), 3 more states plus the District of Columbia followed suit between 1973 and 1984 (North Dakota, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island), and 7 more joined the list in the past decade (New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware). The Delaware Supreme Court struck down capital punishment as unconstitutional in August 2016.

4 states technically allow the death penalty, but their governors have imposed a moratorium on the practice (Colorado, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Washington).

Source: newsmax.com, Scott Rasmussen, July 8, 2017. The author is a Senior Fellow for the Study of Self-Governance at the King's College in New York and an Editor-At-Large for Ballotpedia, the Encyclopedia of American Politics.

🔎 For state by state information (states with and without the death penalty), see here (Death Penalty Information Center).

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


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