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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…

Kenya: Supreme Court to decide on legality of the death penalty

Kenyan courtroom
The Supreme Court will on Thursday deliver a judgment on the constitutionality of the death sentence.

Death row convicts Francis Karioko Muruatetu and Wilson Thirimbu Mwangi, who have been in jail for the last 14 years since 2003, had filed the case at the apex court while seeking that the mandatory death penalty should be scrapped from the Kenyan law.


Abolished


The duo were convicted alongside 5 other suspects, including the wife of former Lands Commissioner Wilson Gachanja, for the grisly murder of businessman Lawrence Githinji Magondu.

As of December 2010, 139 countries out of 197 under the UN had abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

The decision to be delivered is expected to be a landmark one.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the International Commission of Jurists Kenyan chapter, Legal Resources Foundation, Katiba Institute and the Death Penalty Project are listed as amicus in the case.

Death penalty


Notably, in Kenya, there have been no executions since 1987 for accused persons sentenced to death.

Those sentenced to death are to serve a lifelong jail term unless pardoned by the President.

Murder and robbery with violence attract the death penalty in the Kenyan criminal law.

Mandatory death sentence now unconstitutional in Kenya


Mandatory death sentence is no longer lawful in Kenya.

This is after the Supreme Court on Thursday declared Section 204 of the Penal Code, which stipulates mandatory death sentence, as unconstitutional.


'Valid'


However, the top court specified that this decision does not affect validity of the death sentence.

The decision means death sentence is still lawful but not mandatory.

Murder and robbery with violence are the offences in the Kenyan criminal law that attract a death penalty.

The top court judges directed the Attorney-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and other relevant agencies to prepare a detailed professional review of all murder and robbery with violence cases similar as pertains sentencing.

They also ordered that a copy of the judgment be forwarded to Speakers of Parliament and the National Council for Law Reporting to give way forward for any necessary amendments to death sentence.

The judges also ordered that the 2 Kenyans who filed the suit should have a priority hearing before the High Court and be freshly sentenced.

Murder


Death row convicts Francis Karioko Muruatetu and Wilson Thirimbu Mwangi, who have been in jail for the last 14 years, filed the case.

They asked the apex court to scrap mandatory mandatory death penalty from the Kenyan law.

The duo were convicted alongside 5 others - including the wife of former Lands Commissioner Wilson Gachanja for the murder of businessman Lawrence Githinji Magondu.

As of December 2010, 139 countries out of 197 under the UN had already abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the International Commission of Jurists Kenyan chapter, Legal Resources Foundation, Katiba Institute and the death penalty project were listed as amicus in the case.

Source: nation.co.ke, December 13, 2017


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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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