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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rare Execution in Oregon Set for December

(From the Statesman Journal):  A rare Oregon execution, tentatively set to occur on Dec. 6 at the state penitentiary in Salem, is reviving a long-dormant debate about the morality, popularity and costs of state-sanctioned killing here. It also is focusing fresh attention on the condemned killers who occupy Oregon's death row.

Gary Haugen, 49, a twice-convicted murderer, will be put to death by lethal injection, delivered at 7 p.m., inside a seldom-used execution room at the penitentiary. Strapped down on a gurney, he will be killed by three drugs sent coursing through his veins. It will be the 1st Oregon execution in 14 years.

The execution originally was scheduled for Aug. 16. However, it was canceled in June after the state Supreme Court found a Marion County judge did not do a sufficient job of evaluating Haugen's mental competency before authorizing the execution. On Friday, the same judge again deemed Haugen mentally fit to drop his appeals, putting the execution back on track.

Haugen has repeatedly asked to be killed, saying that he is fed up with the justice system and life on death row. He reiterated his desire to die on Friday when Circuit Judge Joseph Guimond asked him to explain why he was waiving his legal appeals. "I can't go on," he said. "Because I'm ready, your honor, because I'm ready." Anti-death penalty activists still hope to persuade Gov. John Kitzhaber to stop the execution by commuting Haugen's death sentence to life in prison without parole.  (For a full picture of executions in America -- past, present and future -- see my new e-book vs. the death penalty, Dead Reckoning, just $2.99 this week.)

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