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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 should speed up executions, state auditor says

Walter Moody
Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler said the decades Walter LeRoy Moody sat on Alabama's death row was another example of justice delayed equaling justice denied.

Moody was executed Thursday night for the 1989 pipe bombing death of Federal Judge Robert Vance in Birmingham. Moody, 83, became the oldest inmate executed in the United States since the return of executions in the 1970s.

Moody's tenure of close to 3 decades behind bars and 20-plus years on death row defeats the deterrent element of capital punishment, Zeigler said.

"Thirty years is too long to carry out a sentence. Killers are not worried about what may happen 30 years from now. They think in terms of the next 30 minutes," Zeigler said. "It is very little deterrent to a would-be killer that he might be executed 30 years later."

In 1991, a federal jury convicted Moody of 71 charges related to the death of Vance and Georgia civil rights attorney Robert Robinson, who was also killed by a pipe bomb blast. He was sentenced to 7 concurrent life sentences and 400 years. He was placed on death row in 1996 after being convicted of capital murder in state court.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average time on death row it 190 months, or almost 16 years.

Zeigler said Moody's long period on death row also meant taxpayers had to foot the bill for his room, board and medical expenses.

"We have got to correct this problem and start carrying out swifter justice," he said.

Zeigler said he is working on a plan - dubbed "Execution Delayed is Justice Denied" - that will "greatly speed up executions without increasing the danger of executing the wrong person."

A timeline for the plan to be released was not announced.

Source: al.com, April 21, 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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