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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…

Rajasthan passes bill to award death penalty for rapists of girls below 12 years of age

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In a significant development, the Rajasthan State Assembly on Friday cleared an amendment bill for death penalty for the culprits in the rape cases involving girls below 12 years of age. With this, Rajasthan has become the second state after Madhya Pradesh to pass the bill.

The Rajasthan government on Tuesday tabled the bill to award death penalty to those found guilty of raping girls below 12 years of age.

Under Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2018, section 376-AA in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) -

Whoever commits rape on a woman up to twelve years of age shall be punished with death, or rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than fourteen years but which may extend to imprisonment for life which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person's natural life, and shall also be liable to fine.

A similar provision, 376-DD, was added for gang-rape.

In the 'Statement of Objects and Reasons' for bringing in the Bill, the Rajasthan government said, "It has come to the notice of the State Government that the offence relating to child rape and child gang-rape are taking place every now and then. Such crimes are heinous and turn the life of the victim into hell."

The statement added, "It is the prime duty of the society and the State to protect its offspring against all odds and give them an environment conducive to their mental and physical development. Therefore, such offences need to be dealt with an iron hand. The State Government is of the considered view that to protect the girl child up to twelve years of age from such heinous crimes, a deterrent punishment which may extend to the death of the offender should be provided for."

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, in a reply to the Budget debate in the Assembly in February, had announced that the state government will bring in more stringent punishment "including capital punishment", for the rape of girls below 12 years.

Source: India Today, March 9, 2018


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

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