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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…

How new antiterrorism law will change Indonesia's war on terror

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Indonesia will soon have a new antiterrorism law to replace the current law, which is widely seen as weak, with deliberations on the antiterrorism bill expected to conclude this May or June.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post in an interview on Thursday, Enny Nurbaningsih, head of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo administration's team to deliberate the antiterrorism bill, ensured the new legislation could provide security for Indonesians against deadly terror attacks such as those that had occurred recently in numerous places across Indonesia's most populated island of Java.
Calls for the government and the House of Representatives to conclude the long-due deliberation on the bill have mounted after the attacks, which were allegedly conducted by an Islamic State (IS)-linked local jihadist organization known as Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD).
Enny, who is also head of the Law and Human Rights Ministry's National Law Development Agency (BPHN), said the government expected d…

In Iran, gay men face the death penalty; transgender people face stern discrimination despite fatwa

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Iran's transgender community: Legally recognised yet socially ostracized
TEHRAN, Iran – Nahal smokes yet another cigarette on her mother’s balcony overlooking Tehran, one of the few peaceful places the 19-year-old transgender woman has in Iran, where her identity can bring harassment and prying, judging eyes on the street.
Nahal recalled how she had hardly started high school before being forced to leave over her classmates’ insistence she dress as a man. Her manicured fingernails, painted pink, brushed away her long brown hair as she looked through old photographs of her childhood, recounting how even her own family has struggled to accept her.
“I no longer see my relatives,” she said. “Maybe I’m a sign that if your own children will have a similar problem later, you can accept it.”
It shouldn’t be like this for Nahal in the Islamic Republic, which – perhaps to the surprise of those abroad – has perhaps the most open mindset in the Middle East toward transgender people. The Shiit…

Iran: Man hanged at Ardabil Central Prison on murder charges

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Iran Human Rights (May 16, 2018): A prisoner was hanged at Ardabil Central Prison on murder charges.
According to a close source, on the morning of Wednesday, May 16, a prisoner was hanged at Ardabil Central Prison on murder charges. 
The prisoner, named Babak Rezaei, was sentenced to death and 10 years in prison on the charge of murder during an armed robbery. 
The robbery took place in October 2012.
According to a report by Tasnim news agency quoting the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Ardabil, Naser Atabati, “The defendant was 41 years old and he committed armed robbery and murder with his accomplice.”
It should be noted that during the last week, the statistical department of Iran Human Rights (IHR) reported 11 executions in Iran.
According to Iran Human Rights annual report on the death penalty, 240 of the 517 execution sentences in 2017 were implemented due to murder charges. 
There is a lack of a classification of murder by degree in Iran which results in issuing a deat…

For victims' families, no easy answer on whether the ordeal of a death penalty case is worth it

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The parents of the murdered students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been asked — directly by prosecutors, indirectly by defense lawyers, and while talking amongst themselves — whether the young man responsible for mercilessly slaughtering their children should be executed for the crime.
At stake is more than just the life of the killer, Nikolas Cruz. Whenever the death penalty is ordered in Florida, the case is automatically appealed, guaranteeing the victims’ families will be locked with Cruz in a lengthy process that can take years or even decades to resolve.
It’s a position no one envies, but some who have been through similar ordeals say the Parkland parents cannot give a wrong answer, no matter what they decide.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel talked to family members of three victims whose accused killers faced the death penalty. They agreed that the process is long, grueling and takes an emotional toll. Yet none regret their decisions to ask prosecutors to seek a …

Post Mortem – the execution of Edward Earl Johnson

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31 years ago, on May 20, 1987, just before midnight, I was sitting in the witness area of the Mississippi Gas Chamber watching someone die in front of me. His name was Edward Earl Johnson.
I am both sad and glad that Edward’s final two weeks, right up to his agonising death, were recorded in Paul Hamann’s extraordinary BBC documentary Fourteen Days in May. Sad, because from time to time I find myself forced to relive that horror, when I watch the film at some public event; glad, because at least Edward’s senseless death has had positive repercussions – the film inspiring many to take up the battle for people in his precarious predicament.
Yet it irks me beyond measure that people who should know better use their position of power to prognosticate that the justice system never executes the innocent. For example, in a case called Kansas v. March, in 2006, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia loudly proclaimed that there is not “a single case — not one — in which it is clear that a…

Texas: The accused Santa Fe shooter will never get the death penalty. Here’s why.

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The high school junior accused of gunning down 10 students and teachers at a Santa Fe school is facing a capital murder charge - but he’ll never face the death penalty, even in Texas.
Though Dimitrios Pagourtzis was charged as an adult and jailed without bond, even if he’s found guilty he can’t be sentenced to death because of a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. And in the Lone Star State, he can’t be sentenced to life without parole as the result of a 2013 law that banned the practice for minors.
“In Texas, after the Supreme Court’s decision, they passed a law that basically says that it’s a life sentence if you’re under 18 at the time of the crime,” said attorney Amanda Marzullo, executive director of Texas Defender Services. “The Court has said that it is cruel and unusual to execute an individual who is under 18 at the time of the offense.”
The Santa Fe High School student admitted to the mass shooting that killed 10 and wounded 10 others early Friday, according to court documents.…