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Oregon judge rules death row inmate can reject clemency

A judge in the Washington County Circuit Court of Oregon [official website] ruled Friday that a death row inmate is not required to accept clemency granted to him by Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber [official website]. Last December, Kitzhaber granted clemency to convicted murderer Gary Haugen after Haugen voluntarily waived all further appeals in order to speed up his execution in protest [AP report] of a criminal justice system he claims is broken. Kitzhaber is a vocal opponent of the death penalty [JURIST news archive] who in 2011 issued a temporary reprieve [JURIST report] for Haugen and called for an end to the state's death penalty. Kitzhaber's office is considering appealing the decision.

The death penalty remains a controversial issue across the US. In November the Connecticut Supreme Court [official website] upheld [JURIST report] the constitutionality of the state's death penalty law. Also in November the Ohio Supreme Court [official website] announced that it was forming a committee to ensure that the death penalty is not administered arbitrarily [JURIST report]. In March 2011 Illinois abolished capital punishment [JURIST report], concluding that there was no way to rid the capital punishment system of its discriminatory flaws. In 2009, New Mexico repealed its death penalty [JURIST report] on similar grounds to Illinois, asserting that the state could not possibly administer the death penalty impartially.

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