"Death penalty opponents want Oregon vote on repealing capital punishment," is the AP report filed by Jonathan J. Cooper. It's via the Republic.
Death penalty opponents took their case to Oregon lawmakers Monday, imploring a state House committee to allow the public to vote on outlawing capital punishment.
The House Judiciary Committee took no action on the measure, which would ask voters in 2014 whether to amend the state constitution, making it illegal to execute anyone, including people already on death row.
"My plea today, as a citizen of Oregon, is do not kill in my name," said Aba Gayle of Silverton, whose 19-year-old daughter, Catherine Blount, was murdered in 1980. "And most importantly of all, do not tarnish the name of my beautiful daughter with another senseless killing."
Her daughter's killer, Douglas Mickey, is on death row in California.
Terri Hakim disagrees. She doesn't want to see any benefits for the father and son convicted of planting a bomb that killed her husband, Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Bill Hakim, at a Woodburn Bank in 2008.
The Salem Statesman Journal reports, "Death penalty subject of bill," by Peter Wong.
House Joint Resolution 1 is a proposed constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty, which Oregon voters reinstated in 1984. If lawmakers refer it and voters approve it in November 2014, the penalty for aggravated murder — the only crime punishable by death — would revert to life imprisonment.
Terri Hakim was the only witness to oppose the measure.
“If these men were allowed back into the general (prison) population, they are ‘heroes’ and will continue to teach their words of prejudice and disregard for human life,” she said, referring to trial testimony about the Turnidges’ anti-government views.
The current debate was prompted by Gov. John Kitzhaber, who on Nov. 22, 2011, issued a reprieve blocking the scheduled execution of Gary Haugen and vowed there would be no executions during his tenure. Haugen is challenging his reprieve in court.
Kitzhaber was en route Monday from a conference in Washington, D.C.
But in a letter to the committee, he said: “Courts are applying stricter standards and continually raising the bar for prosecuting death penalty cases. For a state intent on maintaining a death penalty, the inevitable result will be bigger questions, fewer options and higher costs. It is time for Oregon to consider a different approach.”
Wong also wrote an earlier version, "Gov. Kitzhaber backs measure to end death penalty," which is still available from the Statesman Journal.
Kitzhaber started the current debate back on Nov. 22, 2011, when he granted a temporary reprieve to twice-convicted murderer Gary Haugen, two weeks before Haugen’s scheduled execution at the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Haugen is challenging his reprieve. The Oregon Supreme Court hears the case on March 14.
Like Douglas Franklin Wright and Harry Charles Moore, Haugen waived further rights of appeal. Kitzhaber did not intervene in the two earlier cases, and the executions by lethal injection proceeded in 1996 and 1997, during his first term as governor.
“I have 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,” Kitzhaber wrote in his statement.
Kitzhaber’s reprieve applied only to Haugen – he did not commute any of the sentences of the 36 men and one woman on death row – but he also vowed no executions during his current tenure as governor.
The Oregonian reports, "Oregon death penalty 'indefensible,' says man who last carried it out." It's written by Helen Jung.
The man who oversaw Oregon's last two executions at the Oregon State Penitentiary said the death penalty fails to deter crime, does not make the public any safer and forces prison officials into an untenable position.
"Asking decent men and women to participate in the name of a failed public policy that takes human life is indefensible and rises to a level of immorality," said Frank Thompson, who was superintendent of the penitentiary from 1994 to 1998.
Thompson was one of more than a dozen people to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday. All but one, the widow of an Oregon State Police trooper who was killed in the 2008 Woodburn bank bombing, urged the committee to move forward a resolution asking voters to repeal the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
But the bill, sponsored by Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, faces long odds."I don't know if it will progress past this point," said Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. He conceded that he is "not a big supporter of changing" the law, which allows for capital punishment in aggravated murder cases.
Bills to alter the death penalty have not made it out of committee in recent years.
"Oregon Lawmakers Consider Death Penalty Repeal," is by Chris Lehman for Northwest News Network. It's via Oregon Public Broadcasting. There is audio at the link.
More than a year ago, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber stunned people by enacting a moratorium on the death penalty. It happened just weeks before the scheduled execution of two-time murderer Gary Haugen. At a hearing Tuesday, lawmakers took up the question of whether to ask voters to repeal the death penalty altogether. But it’s not clear whether that will actually happen.
Dan Bryant knows the unique pain of learning a loved one has been murdered. His mother was stabbed to death by a mentally-ill relative in 1998.
"Five years later, her killer died while under the care of the State Hospital," Bryant says. "His death did nothing to bring closure, relief or any sense of justice to me or my family."
Now, the Eugene minister is asking lawmakers to send a repeal of the death penalty to Oregon voters. Ending capital punishment in Oregon would have to be done at the ballot. That's because Oregon voters put it in the state Constitution nearly 30 years ago.
Earlier coverage from Colorado begins at the link.