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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…

Alabama: Attempts to carry out the death penalty have gone from bad to worse

Alabama's death row
We are barely into the third month of 2018 and already the state of Alabama’s attempts to carry out the death penalty have gone from bad to worse.

In late January, 30 minutes before he was supposed to die, the court stayed the execution of Vernon Madison because there were questions as to whether he could understand why he was being killed.

Madison, 67, has been on death row for more than three decades after having been found guilty of the murder of Mobile police officer Julius Schulte. His attorneys say multiple strokes have left Madison with dementia and he no longer has a memory of his crime. They also say he is legally blind, cannot walk on his own and has urinary incontinence. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said the state will continue to pursue Madison’s execution.

In late February, Alabama tried to kill Doyle Lee Hamm, 61, in what has been described as a horrifically botched execution. Hamm, who has spent more than 30 years on death row for the murder of Patrick Cunningham, a motel clerk in Cullman, has been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. While strapped to a gurney for more than two-and-a-half hours, Hamm was repeatedly punctured through his groin as officials attempted to find a vein for the lethal injection. Half an hour before his death warrant was to expire, the state called off the execution. U.S. Chief District Judge Karon Bowdre is expected to begin a review of the execution attempt on Tuesday.

On April 19, Alabama is scheduled to execute Walter Leroy Moody, 83, the oldest inmate on the state’s death row. Moody was convicted of killing federal appeals court judge Robert Vance with a pipe bomb he mailed to Vance’s home in Mountain Brook in 1989.

Thirty years is a long time to wait to die, but the state is persistent. Alabama has spent a lot of money and a lot of energy to usher out these old and infirm inmates before nature takes its course. We’re sure a lot of readers would agree that Madison, Hamm and Moody are examples of why the death penalty process should be shortened. But there are six men in the past 25 years who are glad it wasn’t.

Walter McMillian was convicted of murder and sentenced to die in 1988 in Monroeville. On March 2, 1993, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals voted 5-0 to exonerate him and set him free. He sat on death row for six years. Larry Randal Padgett was sentenced to death in 1992. Five and a half years later, he was exonerated. Gary Drinkard was sentenced to death in 1995. In 2001 he was exonerated. Wesley Quick was sentenced to death in 1997. He was exonerated in 2003. Daniel Wade Moore was sentenced to death in 2002. He was exonerated in 2009.

Anthony Hinton was sentenced to death in 1986. He was exonerated in 2015, after awaiting his execution for 29 years for crimes he did not commit.

Source: tuscaloosanews.com, Editorial, March 5, 2018


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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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