In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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…

Indonesia: Death row inmate caught trafficking drugs inside prison, prosecutor asks he get death penalty, again

Indonesian flag
Indonesian authorities ranging from President Joko Widodo to National Narcotics Agency (BNN) Head Budi Waseso, have justified the country's use of the death penalty on drug offenders (and the shooting of drug suspects at the slightest provocation) by arguing that the country is in the midst of a full-blown drug emergency. 

The statistics they use to make that claim are flawed, but there is a very clear law enforcement emergency taking place - inside of Indonesia's prisons.

One of the reasons why the Indonesian people also strongly support the death penalty for drug dealers is because of numerous stories about criminals who manage to run narcotics operations even while in jail.

The latest such incident involves a prisoner in Medan's Tanjung Gusta prison who was caught ordering 25 kg of crystal methamphetamines to be delivered to his penitentiary for distribution.

What makes the case unique is that the 60-year-old prisoner, Togiman, was in prison after being sentenced to execution for smuggling large quantities of crystal meth and ecstasy. After BNN officers found a shipment of crystal meth Togiman had ordered delivered to Tanjunggusta in May, he was once again charged and underwent trial for trafficking. At the sentencing hearing on Tuesday the state prosecutor asked that Togiman be sentenced to death, again.

"Togiman's case highlights the serious problems that exist within Indonesia's extremely understaffed, underfunded and notoriously corrupt prisons."

"(We ask for) this heavy punishment against the defendant Togiman because he had previously received the death sentence," state prosecutor Dewi Tarihoran said as quoted by Tribun.

In addition to Togiman, the prosecution asked that the 4 other involved in the drug smuggling operation be given life sentences.

On top of the ridiculousness of sentencing a man to death twice (what'll they do, execute his ghost?), Togiman's case highlights the serious problems that exist within Indonesia's extremely understaffed, underfunded and notoriously corrupt prisons. Togiman was actually able to set up the drug order using a mobile phone from inside the prison and his operation was only caught by BNN officers who intercepted his delivery before it reached Tanjung Gusta .

In June, BNN announced that they had discovered a drug criminal living in a "luxury cell" at East Jakarta's Cipinang Prison, complete with AC, wifi and even an aquarium. The warden, who claimed to have no knowledge of the prisoner's deluxe accommodations, was fired.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. If the Indonesian government is at all serious about actually tackling the nation's drug problem, then it must also be serious about reforming the penal system to prevent such outrageous acts from taking place.

But instead, what we're seeing is both the president and the BNN chief espousing rhetoric advocating the shooting of suspected drug criminals at the slightest provocation, which has already led to a sharp increase in the number of police shootings this year.

Source: coconuts.co, December 7, 2017

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