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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…

Support for Death Penalty at Record Levels Among Brazilians, Poll Finds

Rio de Janeiro
According to recent Datafolha research, support for the use of the death penalty has grown significantly in the last nine years. The recent poll found 57% of those interviewed in favor of the adoption of capital punishment. In 2008, the last time that the institute polled on this subject, 47% held the same opinion.

This is the highest number recorded since the Datafolha started polling on this subject in 1991. But it is within the statistical margin of error - 2 % points higher or lower - with levels recorded in 1993 and 2007, when 55% of the population said they were in favor of the punishment.

The death penalty is not used in Brazil, although it is provided for during times of a declared state of war in paragraph 37 of article 5 of the Constitution. The last time Brazil was in a declared state was during the Second World War.

In 2015, for the 1st time in more than 150 years, Brazilians were condemned to capital punishment. The executions of Marco Archer in January followed by Rodrigo Gularte, both in Indonesia, were the first such executions of Brazilians abroad.

In Brazil itself, the last execution of a free man condemned to death by the Civil Judiciary took place in 1861 in the province of Santa Luzia, which later became the city of Luziania, in the area surrounding the current Federal District.

According to Datafolha, which interviewed 2,765 Brazilians from 192 municipalities between November 29th and 30th of last year, 39% of the population is opposed to the punishment. Beyond these, 1% declared indifference and another 3% didn't know how to respond.

The research revealed that support for the death penalty is highest among the poorest Brazilian citizens. Support is 58% among those who have monthly incomes of 5 minimum salaries (R$ 4,770 [US$ 1,477]) or less.

It decreases to 51% among those with incomes of 5 to 10 salaries (R$ 9,540 [US$ 2,954]) and falls even more among the wealthiest group, to 42%.

Women in general tend to show less support for capital punishment, at 54%, compared to 60% for men. In terms of age, the age group that shows the greatest support for execution of those condemned is the 25 to 34-year-old category, in which 61% say they are in favor.

Older citizens, those more than 60 years old, are less likely to support the use of the punishment, at 52%. Atheists are the group least likely to support the death penalty. Only 46% say they are in favor of it.

Among religiously affiliated Brazilians, Evangelicals are the most reticent regarding the subject: 50% are in favor while 45% are opposed (4% don't know how to respond and 1% are indifferent), while Catholics make up the group most in favor of the punishment: 63% support it while only 34% are against it.

Source: folha.uol.com.br, January 10, 2018


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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