Daily Astorian Editorial: Death Penalty begs for reconsideration

Astoria, Oregon
Support for the death penalty is waning. Indiana joins the ranks of states without capital punishment. Support for the death penalty is waning across America.

We see it most startlingly in the recent vote by Nebraska’s one-house Legislature. By a veto-proof margin, the Nebraska Senate voted to eliminate the death penalty. Nebraska is a red state. Its governor says he’ll veto the statute. But he would have to move two senators off their “no” votes.

Also recently, in blue Boston there was little popular support for giving the death penalty to the Boston Marathon bomber. The family of one victim said they favored a life sentence so they would not have to relive the crime at the successive appeals that come with death penalties.

Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis, who supports the death penalty, has retried a Bend murder case successive times as the convicted murderer makes appeals which the Oregon Supreme Court has granted, leading to new trials. Those retrials have taken an emotional toll on the family of the victim.

One of the most significant arguments against the death penalty is its relative cost. Capital trials are more expensive than noncapital murder trials. The prolonged appeals process, which goes on for years, adds to the cost.

The Marshall Project noted recently that, “In the six states that have abolished capital punishment over the past decade, Republican and Democratic officials have also emphasized the cost of the death penalty as a major rationale. Even in states that retain the punishment, cost has played a central role in the conversion narratives of conservative lawmakers, public officials and others who question the death penalty as a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to coverage of the criminal justice system.

Oregon’s history on the death penalty is typified by a number of changes of mind. The Register-Guard of Eugene recounted that progression. “In Oregon, voters abolished the death penalty in 1914, reinstated it in 1920, repealed it in 1964 and reinstated it again in 1978. After the Oregon Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1981, voters approved a constitutionally proper version in 1984.”

As the Register-Guard has urged, it is time for Oregonians to have another discussion about the death penalty. The alternative of a life sentence without possibility of parole should be put before the voters.

Read the full article here: http://www.dailyastorian.com/editorials/20150602/editorial-death-penalty...




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