Oregon Governor Halts Execution in Opposition to Death Penalty
Although half-a-million people spoke out in one voice to oppose the execution of Troy Davis in September, they were tragically disappointed when the Georgia Board of Pardons and Appeals declined to grant a reprieve after all other appeal options had been exhausted.
The outcome was a heartbreaking setback for death penalty opponents, but the massive grassroots organizing and international media coverage of the case pointed to the possibility of real change in use of the death penalty.
News out of Oregon this week points to one such change resulting from raising this issue’s public profile and putting pressure on elected leaders. On Tuesday, Governor John Kitzhaber announced that he would issue a reprieve to convicted murderer Gary Haugen, halting his execution and issuing a moratorium against any further executions during his term.
Calling the system “compromised and inequitable” he also expressed regret about the two previous executions that happened under his watch:
They were the most agonizing and difficult decisions I have made as Governor and I have revisited and questioned them over and over again during the past 14 years. I do not believe that those executions made us safer; and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society. And I simply cannot participate once again in something I believe to be morally wrong.
Hopefully Gov. Kitzhaber’s example will inspire other governors to consider doing the same.