Submitted by David McNeil on Fri, 08/01/2014 - 6:00am
Federal Judge in California Rules State's Death Penalty Unconstitutional: U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney holds that California's death penalty, implemented so rarely and so long after the offense, serves no penological purpose. Jeff Ellis Comments on California Decision: "California has nothing on Oregon. Our death penalty system is even worse." Women Can Get Us Over the Top: History tells us that women will again propel abolition of Oregon's death penalty--this time, for good. The September 21st Project: The International Day of Peace this year will coincide with the third anniversary of the execution of Troy Anthony Davis. Help us mark these two important events in your community. Analysis of Hall v. Florida by Prof. Charles Ogletree, Jr.: From the Washington Post, July 19, 2014, we reprint in full an op-ed foreseeing the end of the death penalty in America. Harvard Law Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., highlights Justice Kennedy's focus in the majority opinion on human dignity as the basis for Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, and explains why the death penalty is an affront to the human dignity both of those executed and of the society that executes them. A must-read for death penalty opponents.
A federal judge has ruled that California's death penalty system is unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney handed down an order Wednesday, finding that the system is arbitrary and in violation of the Constitution's 8th Amendment.
September 21, 2014 marks the third anniversary of the execution of Troy Davis. This sad occasion remembers the frustration of peace-minded people throughout the country, and throughout the world, trying to stop an execution of an individual believed to be innocent of the crime he was convicted of. In spite of mounting evidence of Mr.Davis’ innocence, the State of Georgia and the United States Supreme Court allowed his execution to take place.
WASHINGTON — For 40 years American politicians have assumed that favoring the death penalty is a winning political position. Is that era coming to an end? Is support for capital punishment, like opposition to gay marriage, evaporating?
We can't be sure. But we're seeing the first signs that it could happen.
Submitted by David McNeil on Tue, 07/08/2014 - 7:38pm
On behalf of Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, let me respond to Oregonian reporter Bryan Denson's April 30 article criticizing OADP's participation in the recent Oregonian poll about the death penalty. First, thank you to The Oregonian for providing a forum for discussing the death penalty in Oregon. Gov. John Kitzhaber called for a vigorous statewide debate on this issue, and that is what OADP is trying to promote. We welcome the participation of all Oregonians, whatever their views, and we appreciate The Oregonian's help. We will, of course, continue to make our views known through all available avenues, including The Oregonian’s poll. We are not trying to silence anyone else from making their views known and fully expect death penalty proponents will do so as well. The fact is, the death penalty is a wasteful and ineffective response to violent crime. We believe that when Oregonians understand this, they will choose to replace it with life in prison without possibility of parole as the most serious sanction for murder. Six other states have done so in the last few years (New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland), bringing the total of states without the death penalty to 18.
By Frank Thompson, a retired prison superintendent from the Oregon Department of Corrections.
Because of the moratorium that Gov. John Kitzhaber declared, the gruesome events that unfolded during the execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma did not happen here. But for our governor's bold leadership, it could have. Oklahoma officials injected Mr. Lockett with a "newly tried" cocktail of drugs that caused him to "writhe and gasp" and cry out in pain minutes after he'd been declared unconscious. At one point, he "tried to rise [from the table] and exhaled loudly," prompting prison officials to pull a curtain in front of witnesses. An execution that should have taken little more than 10 minutes was stretched to an agonizing 43 minutes and ended with Mr. Lockett dying of a massive heart attack. Our constitution requires that, if a state wishes to use the death penalty, we must guarantee that it is not cruel punishment. And for good reason.
Oregon's Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty in a case involving the 2004 murder of an African immigrant. The ruling comes as capital punishment faces increased scrutiny nationwide after a botched execution by lethal injection in Oklahoma. Oregon's highest court upheld the conviction and death sentence of Michael Washington. The Gresham, Ore. man is on death row for the killing of Mohamed Jabbie, a West African immigrant.
After Michael Washington's 2010 murder conviction, he claimed he wasn't given a fair trial. Among other things, he said Oregon's system of lethal injection violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The justices turned aside that argument. But it doesn't mean Washington will face execution any time soon. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has imposed a moratorium on the death penalty while he's in office.
EUGENE — A Lane County jury has agreed that a Eugene man who's twice been convicted of killings should be executed. The jury reached its decision Thursday in the case of 58-year-old David Ray Taylor, convicted last week in the 2012 killing of Celestino Gutierrez. Prosecutors said Gutierrez was killed so that his car could be used as a getaway vehicle in a bank robbery a few hours after he was killed. Taylor previously served 27 years for the killing of a young Eugene woman in 1977. He was released in 2004. Prosecutors said the killing of Gutierrez was done at Taylor's home, and he planned it along with younger associates, one of whom posed as a stranded woman in a bar parking lot and asked Gutierrez for a ride. After Gutierrez was killed, his body was dismembered and buried in a forest southwest of Eugene, The Register-Guard reported. "This is a rare, extreme case, and exactly what the death penalty was intended for," Lane County Deputy District Attorney David Schwartz told the jury.
A 12-person jury unanimously ruled in favor of the death penalty Wednesday in the case of a man originally convicted of murder in 1989. Robert Langley, 54, listened as Marion County Circuit Judge Mary James read the jury's response to whether he deserved the death penalty for the torture-murder of Anne Gray. In December 1987, Langley bound and strangled Gray. He buried her body in a muddy hole behind a North Salem house where his aunt once lived. Four months later, Langley used a baseball bat to bludgeon to death Larry Rockenbrant in a garage on state hospital grounds. A prosecutor later told a jury that Langley and Rockenbrant knew each other and that Langley had told him about Gray's murder. Langley then killed Rockenbrant to keep him silent.
Capital punishment is legal in the U.S. state of Oregon. The first execution under the territorial government was in 1851. Capital punishment was made explicitly legal by statute in 1864, and executions have been carried out exclusively at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem since 1904. The death penalty was outlawed between 1914 and 1920, again between 1964 and 1978, and then again between a 1981 Oregon Supreme Court ruling and a 1984 ballot measure. Since 1904, about 60 individuals have been executed in Oregon. Aggravated murder is the only crime subject to the penalty of death under Oregon law.