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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…

South Africa: Move to revive death penalty

South African police officers
A movement may be afoot to petition for the restoration of the death penalty to deal with the soaring murder rate in the country which makes South Africa one of the countries with the highest murder rate globally.

The death penalty was abolished with the introduction of the democratic dispensation in the country.

Alex based social and political activist Mike Beea said the move was in response to the release of the annual crime statistics by the Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula late last year showing unrelenting violent crime, rape and murder of innocent citizens. “This is further illustrated by weekly statistics of rape, murder, robberies and other crimes making residents of the township fearful of moving freely, particularly in the night on weekends,” said Beea.

“The high levels of crime impede citizens’ rights to safety and freedom of movement enshrined in the Constitution while giving criminals free reign to do as they please.

“All you hear of is inconclusive investigations, making it appear [as though] the criminals have a right to effect an unofficial death penalty on the citizens who feel unprotected by an ineffective rule of law. This despite our globally acclaimed but not implemented Constitution.”

Beea said the petition seeks to restore the right to life of innocent citizens and to rid the country of malcontents who bring misery, suffering and permanent trauma to citizens while they are treated well and protected while in prison.

“They are supported with education and skills training programmes using ordinary citizens’ tax contributions while the dependents of their victims are left traumatised, maimed, sometimes paralysed and impoverished with the loss of breadwinners and without state support or compensation.”

According to Beea the few murderers who are arrested and convicted knew that the justice system will confine them in safe prisons and also that initiatives by civil society entities like Gun Free South Africa were ineffective deterrents.

“It's time for society not to fear accusations of political incorrectness but, to openly agitate for the death penalty as they are the main targets of the horrendous crimes that inflict permanent pain, sorrow and suffering,” said Beea.

He urged the state to also provide scientific evidence and numbers of arrested murderers who were reformed while they were in jail and also alleged that jails appeared to be incubators for hardened criminals as some of them become repeat offenders and brag about their criminal records to instil fear when they are released to communities.

Beea said the movement would seek partnerships with entities promoting Constitutional rights to life and safety and would lobby for the promulgation of tough laws for gun ownership, licencing and training and stop private entities from dealing in guns and other dangerous weapons.

Source: Alex News, Lesho Manala, January 10, 2018


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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