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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…

Israel: Knesset to vote on death penalty for terrorists

The Knesset
Yisrael Beytenu's death penalty for terrorists law approved by coalition leaders' forum and will be voted upon by the Knesset.

Following the demand of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, the leaders of the coalition parties on Sunday evening approved the Yisrael Beytenu party’s bill mandating the death penalty for terrorists.

The bill will be brought to a preliminary vote in the Knesset plenum.

MK Robert Ilatov, Yisrael Beytenu Parliamentary Group Chairman, said, "Today is a historic day in the State of Israel. After years in which the Yisrael Beytenu party has been promoting the death penalty for terrorists and after it was rejected by the Knesset and the government, today the death penalty bill for terrorists has finally been approved by the coalition leaders' forum.”

"The legislation should be very simple and very clear - a terrorist who comes to kill innocent civilians will be sentenced to death. No more convenient prison conditions, no more pictures of cheers for freed murderers, no more academic degrees,” continued Ilatov, who noted that the bereaved families whose loved ones were murdered by terrorists face the unbearable pain and sorrow every day "while the terrorists enjoy comfortable conditions in the prisons. For the bereaved families, this fixes a historic injustice."

"I welcome the approval of this important bill, and I hope that it will soon enter the law book of the State of Israel. I expect all MKs to vote for the bill, this not a matter of right or left, it's a matter of justice," he concluded.

Defense Minister and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman welcomed the approval of the law, saying, “The murder of Sergeant Ron Yitzhak Kukia proves once again the need for a law enabling the death penalty for terrorists. The death penalty for terrorists will be a significant deterrent. We must not allow terrorists to know that after a murder they have committed, they will sit in prison, enjoy such and such conditions and may be released in the future. Our struggle against them must be very determined."

Meanwhile, MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said he opposes the death penalty for terrorists law.

"Throughout history there have been many terrorists deserving of the death penalty, and yet the state has refrained from imposing this. The death penalty does not deter, but rather creates heroes of terror. Therefore, in the civilized world to which we belong, we impose life sentences but refrain from the death penalty," Shai said.

MK Shai added that "the death penalty will bring with it international pressure that Israel will not be able to withstand at this time. All this for the survival of the coalition?"

Last month, a Haaretz report claimed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thwarted a proposal to impose a death penalty on terrorists who had committed particularly brutal acts.

In late July, a poll found that almost 70% of respondents said they were in favor of the death penalty for terrorists, with 25.8% expressing "moderate support" and 44% "strong support."

Source: Arutz Sheva, Hezki Baruch, December 17, 2017


Liberman to advance bill setting death penalty for terrorists


Israel flag
Israeli political leaders on Sunday agreed to submit a draft bill to parliament enabling capital punishment for terrorists, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party said in a statement.

Although the statement’s wording was not explicit, the bill is aimed at Palestinian terrorists, in line with Liberman’s past pledges.

“Today the death penalty bill for terrorists has finally been approved by the coalition leaders’ forum,” the Hebrew-language announcement said, referring to the heads of the six political parties which make up the governing coalition.

“The legislation should be very simple and very clear — a terrorist who comes to kill innocent civilians will be sentenced to death,” it said.

The statement quoted Liberman as saying that if passed into law, the bill would be a powerful deterrent and a counterweight to Palestinian assailants’ hopes that after a spell in jail, they could be freed in a political deal or prisoner exchange.

In the most recent such deal, in 2011, Israel released more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held captive in the Gaza Strip for five years.

“We must not allow terrorists to know that after a murder they have committed, they will sit in prison, enjoy (comfortable) conditions, and may be released in the future,” Liberman wrote.

The statement did not set a date for the bill to be put before parliament.

Liberman’s party has long advocated introducing the death penalty for terrorists. The issue was one of its key campaign promises in the 2015 elections.

While the proposed legislation has previously failed to garner sufficient support, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced approval for the measure.

Following a terror attack in July in the West Bank settlement of Halamish, in which a Palestinian stabbed to death three family members of the Salomon family as they celebrated the birth of a grandson in their home, Netanyahu said he supported the death penalty for the terrorist, saying it was a fitting punishment for a “base murderer.”

It would need to pass four readings before becoming law, and could then risk being struck down by the Supreme Court.

The Knesset has several times rejected legislation that would apply the death penalty to Palestinian terrorists, including in Netanyahu governments.

Israeli law carries a death penalty for crimes against humanity and treason, but was last used when Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was convicted in 1961 and hanged a year later.

Source: Times of Israel (Agence France-Presse), December 17, 2017


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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