In June of this year, I wrote here, calling on Governor Jerry Brown to abolish the death penalty in California.
Today Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has done the right thing by announcing that there will be no more executions under his watch. Specifically, he stated that he would not allow the execution of Gary Haugen, or any other death row inmate, while he is in office. Haugen had been scheduled to die by lethal injection on December 6.
From The New York Times:
“It is time for Oregon to consider a different approach,” Governor Kitzhaber, a Democrat elected last fall, said in a news conference in Salem on Tuesday afternoon. “I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am governor.”
37 People On Death Row, But No Executions In Over 10 Years
Oregon has executed just two people since its voters approved the death penalty in 1984, the most recent in 1997. The state has 37 people on death row, and is one of at least seven states that allow the death penalty but have not used it in over a decade. In addition, 16 states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty altogether.
From Oregon Live:
The change of heart comes as a surprise for a governor who twice before — in his first term as governor — allowed executions to go forward. Despite his personal opposition to the death penalty, Kitzhaber said he was upholding the will of the people in allowing the 1996 execution of Douglas Franklin Wright and the 1997 execution of Harry Charles Moore.
“I have regretted those choices ever since,” he said in a prepared statement. “Both because of my own deep personal convictions about capital punishment and also because in practice, Oregon has an expensive and unworkable system that fails to meet basic standards of justice.”
The Death Penalty Is Immoral
The death penalty is immoral. No one has the right to deliberately take someone else’s life. It is also racist, classist, leads to the execution of innocent people, and doesn’t even deter violent crime. As a result, capital punishment has been abolished in every other Western democracy.
Governor Kitzhaber has taken a principled stand, and I just hope Governor Jerry Brown of California is paying attention.
There are 720 people on death row in that state, and they have been involved in a futile battle with a federal court which has in effect put executions on hold there for at least five years and is nowhere near resolving the issue. Governor Brown claims to have an upbringing opposed to the barbaric death penalty. Why can’t he simply commute all the death sentences in California and that will be the end of it, not to mention saving the state millions of dollars?
What do you think?
Photo Credit: OHSU Photos