OADP Urges Governor Kitzhaber to Commute Death Sentences

OADP Urges Governor Kitzhaber to Commute Death Sentences

For immediate release: Sunday Feb. 15, 2015

February 13th, 2015 will go down as a sad day in Oregon. Governor John Kitzhaber resigned under pressure from the media, opponents and supporters alike. The details of all the issues surrounding this furor, and his resignation, are provided widely in the general media. Undoubtedly, they will also be commented upon widely on social media, in blogs and on web sites as well. The entire situation is sad for the whole state. Some opponents of the governor may take pleasure in this outcome, but as a state dominated by peace-loving people, this whole situation sets us back.

While Governor Kitzhaber is still in office, until Wednesday, he has the power to commute death row sentences, changing them to life without parole. The power is found in the Oregon Constitution, Article V - Section 14. There is a high probability the one or more death row inmate could face executions in the near future if something is not done.

Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP) urges the Governor to again “do the right thing” as he did when declaring a moratorium in 2011. Commuting death row will stop executions while we continue to debate the issue of having a death penalty and move toward a final vote of the people.

When the governor leaves office his moratorium on the execution of death row inmates is extinguished. As the law provides, Secretary of State Kate Brown will becomes the governor. As it was with Governor Kitzhaber, the law provides the power to the new governor to declare a moratorium in her name. If there are still inmates under the sentence of death, we will then strongly encourage Governor Brown to declare a moratorium at her earliest possible opportunity.

Over the weekend news came that Governor Tom Wolf, of Pennsylvania, declared a moratorium in that state. Pennsylvania now joins Oregon, Washington and Colorado stopping executions with moratoriums. There are mountains of information that point out that the administration of the death penalty is flawed; the continuation of having a death penalty is wasteful of millions, upon millions of dollars; the chance of making a deadly mistake of executing an innocent person exists; and there is no benefit in executions when there are other adequate means of punishing the offenders and keeping the public safe. Oregon should continue to stay clear of executions.

Recently, Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland commuted their remaining death row inmates after that state had repealed their death penalty.

All of this activity is more evidence that the death penalty is losing favor and needs to be repealed nationwide.

Please call the office of Governor John Kitzhaber, thank him for his service and ask him to commute the death row inmates. The number in the Capitol is (503) 378-3111. You will get voice mail and you can leave a message. For more information on Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP), call (503) 990-7060 or go to www.oadp.org

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