Oregon Governor Blocks All Executions – Let Us Give Thanks

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?

Related Stories

10 Reasons To End The Death Penalty Now

Each Execution Costs California $300 Million

BREAKING: Illinois Abolishes The Death Penalty

Photo Credit: OHSU Photos

100 comments

Doug Marchel
Gina M.4 years ago

Of all the so called "civilized" countries, the U.S. is the only one believing "killing" another human being makes everything all right!! Somehow, this makes me ashamed!!!

Shan D.
Shan D.4 years ago

"We had one guy, Clifford Olson, who wrote them letters that went into sadistic detail on how he killed their loved ones. It was quite the power trip for him." - Tom Y. -

Corrections Canada messed up in many ways when it came to dealing with Clifford Olson. They should have prohibited any letters to or from him, except to lawyers or family. But at least he's finally dead, of a hideous disease that must have caused him well-earned pain, and he is mourned by no one. We can only hope that Paul Bernardo and Robert Pickton are treated with greater strictness and die at least as horribly. They, too, will be mourned by no one.

Tom Y.
Tom Y.4 years ago

Is the death penalty even intended as a deterrent? Not primarily. It's meant as a penalty -- a final punishment for the worst evildoers. So Kitzhaber may feel pumped up by his new ban, but to the surviving relatives of helpless victims, justice has been put into suspension. Did he consider them? No. Meanwhile, some of these perps will continue to taunt survivors. We had one guy, Clifford Olson, who wrote them letters that went into sadistic detail on how he killed their loved ones. It was quite the power trip for him. Is Kitzhaber enjoying something similar by interfering with the course of justice as he has? Was this truly an act of conscience?

Miriam Nathan
Miriam N.4 years ago

Poor Sue K. who thinks convicts should be killed so as to spare some State money, who is among those who think money is more important than Life. The USA is the only country in the civilized world to still have the death-penalty, same as in the worst backward primitive barbarian countries of the planet. She apparently doesn't know how many innocent people - especially in a jury system of court judgement - have been convicted and put to death although they did not commit the crime they were judged and condemned for, especially members of ethnic minorities, ( I wonder why...). And even though some criminals deserve to die for the garbage they are, human being should not have the supreme arrogance and "play God" by doing it. Congratulations to Oregon and hopefully will be imitated by the other states that still have death penalty and soon it will no longer exist in the USA

K s Goh
KS Goh4 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Angela R.
Angela R.4 years ago

Thank you Govenor Kitzhaber

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L.4 years ago

"The only thing is...how much money is the 'no executions' costing the state ? Did the people on death row show their victims such compassion ?" You missed the point completely.

Good for the Governor. Hope more will follow; acutally I hope we have a Constitutional Amendment that abolishes capital punishment once and for all in the USA.



sue k.
sue k.4 years ago

The only thing is...how much money is the 'no executions' costing the state ? Did the people on death row show their victims such compassion ?

Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon4 years ago

An outstanding example of leadership in a holder of public office. The folks in Oregon should be proud to have elected him.

Joe Mitchell
Joe Mitchell4 years ago

I'm also proud to be Oregonian Sheila. Every petition our bill I email in support off gets good response in Oregon. Mostly with agreement. Let's reexamine the legal system as a collective, We can come up with better! Peace, Live, Occupy Wall Street :-)