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…

Zambian gov't to consult citizens on abolishing death penalty: official

Lusaka, Zambia
LUSAKA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government said on Wednesday that it will next year consult citizens on whether the death penalty should be left in the country's statute books or removed.

Minister of Justice Given Lubinda said his ministry's agenda for next year will also include sensitizing citizens on the need to abolish the death penalty as well as refinement of the country's constitution.

The Zambian minister was speaking when he held a bilateral meeting with Italian Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando on the sidelines of the 10th International Congress of Justice Ministers in Rome organized by the Italian government whose theme is "A World Without the Death Penalty."

While acknowledging that the death penalty has remained in the country's statute books for years, the Zambian minister said no death warrants have been signed by successive presidents since 1997, according to a statement released by the Zambian embassy in Rome.

According to him, successive presidents have relied on the constitutional provisions to grant the prerogative of mercy to convicts on death-row and commuting death sentences to life imprisonments.

"Death penalty in Zambia which is enshrined in the constitution is very topical and Zambia has been for all intents and purposes a de facto abolitionist state," he said.

On his part, the Italian minister commended the Zambian leaders on its efforts toward abolishing the death penalty.

He said the Italian government was happy that Zambia was making strides in engaging its people in seeing to it that the death penalty was abolished.

Human rights campaigners in Zambia have been calling for the death penalty to be removed from the statute books.

In July 2015, Zambian President Edgar Lungu commuted the sentences of 332 death-row prisoners to life imprisonment.

Source: Xinhua, November 30, 2017

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