Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Oregon Governor Puts the Kibosh on Executions

This week Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber placed a moratorium on all executions, issued a temporary reprieve stopping the December 6 execution of execution volunteer Gary Haugen, according to the Oregonian.  The governor urged the state to "find a better solution" to a system that he said is arbitrary, expensive and "fails to meet basic standards of justice."

Oregon became the latest of five states to abolish or back away from the death penalty. New York's highest court ruled the death penalty statute unconstitutional in 2004. New Jersey repealed its death penalty law in 2007. New Mexico followed suit two years later. And Illinois abolished it earlier this year.

"In my mind, it is a perversion of justice," Governor Kitzhaber said at a crowded news conference, his voice strained and uncharacteristically quavering at times. "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," reported the Oregonian.

Haugen volunteered to be executed by lethal injection. He appeared to overcome the last obstacle earlier this week when the state Supreme Court allowed the execution to proceed. Governor Kitzhaber said he made up his mind last week and wanted to wait for the legal issues to play out before making a public declaration.

Oregon has abolished and reinstated the death penalty several times since it was first enacted in 1864, and Governor Kitzhaber said he did not know if people will support repealing capital punishment, reported the Oregonian.

The reprieve for Haugen remains in place as long as Governor Kitzhaber is governor.  However, Haugen may file an appeal because it is his intention to be executed.

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