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.
May 13, 2014 Randy Geer will tell a story tonight to a gathering of death-penalty foes in Eugene. It's a personal tale of anguish, and of shifting views on capital punishment. A story he waited until he retired to tell publicly. Geer, who recently ended a 31-year career in the Oregon Department of Corrections, is one of the rare people personally wounded by lawful and unlawful killing. Read More at http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/05/former_oregon_priso...
On Tuesday May 13th, American University Professor and author Richard Stack will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 annual meeting of Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP). Professor Stack, author of three books, including his latest, GRAVE INJUSTICE: The Unearthing of Wrongful Executions will expand on major mistakes made in recent years. His compelling descriptions of nineteen wrongful executions illustrate the flaws of the death penalty, which he argues, is ineffective in deterring crime and cost more than sentences of life without parole.
Submitted by David McNeil on Mon, 05/05/2014 - 6:05am
American University Professor and author Richard Stack will address the likelihood that more than a few innocent people have been executed in this country since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. He will speak at OADP's Annual Meeting in Eugene on May 13 (see sidebar) as well as on three university campuses on May 12-14. The campus talks are all free and open to the public.
Please join us Thursday April 10th when Jen Marlowe, co-author of I Am Troy Davis, and Troy's sister, Kimberly Davis, visit Portland to speak about the impact Troy's struggle has had on those still fighting for justice and an end to the death penalty.
Seattle Times Editorial: Capital punishment fails the sober metrics of good public policy. Rarely used, it does not make citizens safer. It is applied inequitably, even randomly. It is much more expensive than alternatives. And it exposes the state to the risk, however small, of making a heinous mistake.
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.