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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…

Indonesia's Aceh considers beheading as penalty for murder

Public caning in Indonesia's Aceh province
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) — The conservative Indonesian province of Aceh known for publicly caning gays, adulterers and gamblers is considering the introduction of beheading as a punishment for murder, a top Islamic law official said Wednesday.

Syukri M. Yusuf, the head of Aceh's Shariah Law and Human Rights Office, said the provincial government has asked his office to research beheading as a method of execution under Islamic law and to consult public opinion.

"Beheading is more in line with Islamic law and will cause a deterrent effect. A strict punishment is made to save human beings," Yusuf told reporters. "We will begin to draft the law when our academic research is completed."

Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia to practice Shariah law, a concession made by the central government in 2005 to end a decades-long war for independence.

Its implementation has become increasingly harsh and now also applies to non-Muslims. Last year, the province for the first time caned two men for gay sex after vigilantes broke into their home and handed them over to religious police.

Yusuf said if Shariah law is consistently applied, then crime, particularly murder, will decrease significantly or disappear.

He said punishment for murderers has in practice been "relatively mild" and they could reoffend after release from prison. He pointed to Saudi Arabia as an example to follow in practicing severe punishment for murder.

Indonesia has the death penalty for crimes such as murder and drug trafficking, which it carries out by firing squad. Its last executions were in July 2016 when three Nigerians and one Indonesian convicted of drug offenses were shot on the Nusa Kambangan prison island.

Source: The Associated Press, March 14, 2018


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