Oregon state Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) plans to introduce a bill proposing a constitutional amendment to repeal the death penalty and substitute life in prison without possibility of parole. If the legislators pass the bill, Oregonians would then vote on the amendment in the 2014 general election.
One year ago, Governor John Kitzhaber stayed the execution of Gary Haugen, convicted of two murders and sentenced to die by lethal injection. Kitzhaber declared, “I will not allow further executions while I am Governor” and called upon all Oregonians “to consider a different approach.” He asked the legislature to bring potential reforms before the 2013 legislative session.
Gov. Kitzhaber wrote, “The death penalty as practiced in Oregon is neither fair nor just.” He believes that it is “morally wrong.”
It is also very expensive, far more expensive than life in prison without parole. Senior Judge Timothy Alexander, who himself has been involved in death-penalty cases for more than 40 years, said the prolonged court process and number of appeals has made the death-penalty system in Oregon ineffective.
The death penalty was repealed by voters in 1964, re-enacted in 1978, declared unconstitutional by the Oregon Supreme Court in 1981, and reinstated by voters in 1984. It will take a constitutional amendment to repeal the death penalty again.
There are presently 37 inmates on death row in Oregon.
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