Oregon’s governor announced that she will commute the sentences of all 17 death row inmates currently awaiting execution.
Kate Brown said that their death sentences would be reduced to life imprisonment without parole. This was most likely because she used her executive clemency powers as governor. NBC News reports.
In a statement she criticised capital punishment, stating that the death penalty “cannot and never has been administered fairly and equitably”.
Ms Brown stated that she has believed for a long time that justice cannot be advanced by taking a human life. The state should not be in business of execution people, even if they have been convicted of a horrible crime.”
“Unlike other commutations that I have granted to individuals who have shown extraordinary growth and rehabilitation,” this commutation does not depend on the rehabilitative efforts of those on death row.
“It reflects the recognition of the immorality of the death penalty.”
She stated that the commutations were in line with a moratorium against the death penalty, which Governor John Kitzhaber (a Democrat), initiated in 2011.
She said, “I also recognize the pain and uncertainty that victims feel as they wait for decades to be executed, especially in states without execution moratoriums.”
“My hope is this commutation can bring us closer to finality in these instances.”
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According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Virginia was the first state to abolish this practice. Instead, it opted for a sentence of life imprisonment without parole.
Oregon legalized the death penalty in 1923. It has since been repealed and reinstituted three times. The death penalty was last reinstated in 1984. Since then, two executions took place in September 1996 and May 1997.
Ms. Brown, a Democrat, was elected in 2015. She will be replaced in January by Tina Kotek, a Democrat. This year, she was also ranked with the highest disapproval ratings among all governors in the country.
This order will take effect on Wednesday.