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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…

Collection of items from the career of Britain's most famous executioner discovered

Albert Pierrepoint
A MACABRE collection of items from the career of Britain's most famous executioner has been discovered. The archive belonging to Albert Pierrepoint includes logbooks he kept on his hangings, with notes on the neck size of the condemned person and the height of the drop they required.

Pierrepoint performed over 400 executions between 1932 and 1956.

Now a number of his possessions have emerged for sale for an estimated 40,000 pounds.

Aside from the 2 chilling 'execution books', the archive includes a plaster cast of Pierrepoint's own death mask and hands taken after he died in 1992 aged 87.

His watch strap and a number of photographs complete the collection that has been owned for several years by a 'legal beagle' who gave lectures on crime.

Pierrepoint came from a family of hangmen with his father Henry and uncle Thomas both working in the trade.

The book which is now set to sell was also used by Henry and coldly lists the exact details of each individual execution.

On each page there is a hand-drawn table consisting of 8 columns - date, name, age, height, weight, drop, remarks and town.

Comments written in the remarks section generally relate to the victims' neck and include observations such as 'strong neck', 'strong neck little flabby' and 'very heavy body, ordinary neck'.

It is thought the former green grocer was responsible for the death of over 200 Nazi war criminals after WWII and once his identity was revealed he was treated like a hero by many.

The collection is being sold by Summers Place Auctions of Billingshurst, West Sussex.

Despite his career in execution, Pierrepoint later admitted he didn't believe in capital punishment

They say it would be of interest to museums and similar institutions.

The vendor has decided the time is right to sell the unique piece of social history.

James Rylands, of Summers Place, said: "It's a very unusual thing but we really like those kinds of lots here.

"We think it's the sort of thing that a few people will like a lot rather than having lots of people expressing an interest.

"It's a wonderful piece of social history and if it could go to an institution or a museum of students to look at and study that would be great. "It's in fantastic condition, has been well looked after, and we're looking forward to seeing how it performs at auction." Despite his long career in execution, Pierrepoint later admitted he didn't believe in capital punishment.

The death penalty was scrapped in Britain in 1965 and in his 1974 autobiography Pierrepoint said he did not think it was a deterrent.

He said: "It is said to be a deterrent. I cannot agree. There have been murders since the beginning of time, and we shall go on looking for deterrents until the end of time.

"If death were a deterrent, I might be expected to know. It is I who have faced them last, young men and girls, working men, grandmothers.

"I have been amazed to see the courage with which they take that walk into the unknown.

"It did not deter them then, and it had not deterred them when they committed what they were convicted for.

"All the men and women whom I have faced at that final moment convince me that in what I have done I have not prevented a single murder."

The sale takes place on June 12.

Source: express.co.uk, May 15, 2018


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

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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning