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…

Tanzania President Magufuli releases 61 death-row inmates, a day after pardoning a total of 8,157 prisoners

PRESIDENT John Magufuli yesterday signed documents for the release of the 61 inmates who were on death row, a day after pardoning a total of 8,157 prisoners during the Uhuru fete in Dodoma on Saturday.

Among pardoned prisoners sentenced to life in jail were musicians Nguza Viking alias Babu Seya, and his son Johnson Nguza, alias Papii Kocha. 

According to a State House press statement, President Magufuli had put ink on paper at Chamwino State House in Dodoma and congratulated the Prison Department for its role in facilitating positive behavioural changes amongst prisoners who had committed different offences.

However, Dr Magufuli stressed that, whereas he had pardoned the prisoners in question, the judiciary system should continue to discharge its core function of administering justice in compliance with the law.

Meanwhile, the Head of State called on the Prison Department to engage inmates in production activities, including agriculture and public works. “I preferred to use Article 45 (1) of the Constitution… though it was never applied… you know it is surprising to pardon someone who was convicted to death because it never happened, but I did this for the sake of Tanzanians.

“Continue to administer justice… a person who is sentenced to a jail term should indeed be jailed. And I have directed the Prison department to ensure that no prisoner stays idle and relax; all must work,” he stressed.

In a related development, the Prison Service Commissioner General, Dr Juma Malewa, thanked the President for his historical decision to pardon a big number of inmates, pointing out that the gesture was a moral boost for those serving terms in various prisons.

Dr Malewa said Prisons officials had advised the pardoned inmates who were released on Saturday after the President had made a public announcement to that effect, to become positive example setters for other community members.

Source: Daily News, December 11, 2017

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