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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…

Ghana has no hangman to execute death row convicts

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Director of Administration at the Prison Service, Stephen Coffie, has revealed that Ghana currently has no hangman to execute death sentences. 

According to him, the last professionally trained hangman Ghana had has long left the system and is yet to be replaced.

The last time the death sentence was used on convicts was in 1993, during former president Jerry John Rawlings' era.

Twelve people in total were executed for crimes ranging from armed robbery and murder.

However, it has now emerged that there is no more qualified hangman in Ghana to execute death sentences even if the need be. "The death sentence yes, we know is still in our constitution. The hangman's system is still blazing in Nsawam but nobody can operate it today.

The last person, the professional who used to handle that facility has long left the system and nobody has oiled or serviced that equipment," the Director of Administration at the Prison Service, Stephen Coffie, is quoted as saying by Myjoyonline.com.


The death sentence in Ghana's laws was one of the major issues under discussion after Amnesty International released its report on the death penalty situation across the world, and the group is calling for a constitutional review of the country's laws.

But the latest comment from the Director of Administration at the Prison Service will come as a huge relief to the human rights group, as they still battle to repeal the death sentence from Ghana's laws.

Source: GhanaWeb, July 15, 2017

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