Everyone on Oregon's Death Row Gets Sentence Commuted

Gov. Kate Brown says action was taken because death penalty is 'immoral'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2022 1:02 AM CST
Updated Dec 14, 2022 6:21 AM CST
Oregon Governor Commutes Sentences for Everyone on State's Death Row
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks in San Francisco, on Oct. 6, 2022.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Oregon's death row will soon be empty. Gov. Kate Brown is commuting the death sentences of all 17 people on it to sentences of life without the possibility of parole, she announced Tuesday. Declaring that the death penalty "cannot be and never has been administered fairly and equitably," the Democratic governor said in a statement: "Since taking office in 2015, I have continued Oregon’s moratorium on executions because the death penalty is both dysfunctional and immoral. Today I am commuting Oregon’s death row so that we will no longer have anyone serving a sentence of death and facing execution in this state." The order takes effect Wednesday, CNN reports.

Brown, who also recently pardoned weed offenses for 47,000 Oregonians, also noted in her statement how difficult it is on victims and their families to wait, sometimes for decades, for resolution. "My hope is that this commutation will bring us a significant step closer to finality in these cases," she said. Brown is in the final days of her governorship before fellow Democrat Tina Kotek takes over in January, and NBC News reports this will likely be the last time she uses her executive clemency powers. Since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 and Oregon followed suit in 1984, the state has executed just two people, in 1996 and 1997. Brown's predecessor, Democrat John Kitzhaber, initiated Oregon's moratorium on executions in 2011. (More Oregon stories.)

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