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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…

Court denies stay for Alabama inmate, orders execution through IV in legs or feet

Images entered in court records show Doyle Lee Hamm's veins, and how the veins in his lower extremities are more accessible. (Court records)
Alabama is set to go forward with its planned Thursday execution of a death row inmate, but a judge's order today specified the Department of Corrections will not use the inmate's arms or hands to insert its execution drugs.

U.S. Chief District Judge Karon O Bowdre's order on Tuesday comes after a months-long legal battle over whether Doyle Lee Hamm's cancer has made his veins unable to handle the 3 drugs the state uses for lethal injections.

The federal court has ordered that Hamm is able to be executed, and his veins will not impede the process.

His lawyer Bernard Harcourt has argued that inserting the catheter required for the drugs in Hamm's one accessible hand vein would be cruel and unusual punishment.

The Alabama Attorney General's Office argued Hamm's cancer is in remission and there is no reason he shouldn't be executed after spending 30 years on death row.

"The Alabama Attorney General's Office argued Hamm's cancer is in remission and there is no reason he shouldn't be executed." [Take a deep breath and read this sentence again, this time aloud. No, you're not dreaming. This was said by an educated individual in the courtroom of one of the world's most advanced countries, in the 21st century. - DPN]

Bowdre's order states Thursday's execution can go forward, and she denied Hamm's emergency motion for a stay. She says the state of Alabama has agreed not to use any veins in Hamm's arms or hands. But, the DOC can use veins in Hamm's legs and feet, or any of his "lower extremities," she states.

"The court's independent medical expert reported that Mr. Hamm has accessible peripheral veins in his lower extremities, and that the peripheral veins in his upper extremities, while accessible, would be more difficult to access and would require a more advanced practitioner using ultrasound guidance," Bowdre wrote in her order. "Based on that report, [the state] agreed to stipulate that they would not attempt peripheral venous access in Mr. Hamm's upper extremities, and the court denied Mr. Hamm's request for a preliminary injunction."

Source: al.com,  Ivana Hrynkiw, February 20, 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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