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Kitzhaber Stops Executions

Pete Springer/OPB

Governor John Kitzhaber addressed the people of Oregon on Tuesday with news that he was granting Gary Haugen a temporary reprieve from his execution. Haugen was scheduled to die by lethal injection on December 6th. Kitzhaber said that he was personally opposed to capital punishment and would not allow any more executions under his watch. He said he wants the 2013 legislature — and the public — to reevaluate the state’s system of capital punishment.

In his remarks Kitzhaber talked about the last two executions that happened in Oregon. They both occurred after voters reinstated the death penalty in 1984 and they both happened during his first term as governor. He said he has:

… regretted those choices ever since — 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. Twenty-seven years after voters reinstated the death penalty it is clear the system is broken.

In his opinion, those executions did not make Oregonians safer or more noble. He said they were morally wrong. Kitzhaber made it clear that he is in favor of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He wants the 2013 Legislature to debate the issues and possibly send a proposal for Oregonians to vote on as early as 2013 or 2014.

What’s your opinion on the death penalty? What personal experience with the law or the criminal system makes you feel that way? What action would you like to see the legislature take now? What do you think of the governor’s decision?

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