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Sister Helen Prejean: No better place than Oregon

 Sister Helen Prejean

Last week, Oregon’s governor, John Kitzhaber, took a stance for life. He refused to sign the death warrant for Gary Haugin and then he went further. He said no to any more executions on his watch. He’d allowed two executions to proceed in his earlier terms as governor, but as he said:

Oregonian OpEd: Capital punishment in Oregon: Kitzhaber should commute all death sentences

Sunday, Nov. 27  Oregon's governor, John Kitzhaber, stopped the impending execution of two-time convicted killer Gary Haugen, granting a "temporary reprieve ... for the duration of my term in office." Haugen's death sentence had been the subject of extensive review and the prisoner himself had argued that he should die. The governor should either have allowed execution to proceed or commuted the sentence. He did neither, treating the prisoner, the victims' families, and the dozens of court and prison officials in this case with cruel irresponsibility.

Oregonian Editorial Board: A reprieve for Gary Haugen, a challenge to Oregonians

Kitzhaber issued a temporary reprieve of the execution of Gary Haugen

Listening to death row inmate Gary Haugen and Gov. John Kitzhaber expound on Oregon's death penalty, it sounds almost as though all this is between them, the two-time murderer ready to accept his punishment, and the three-term governor who can't bring himself to allow another execution under his watch. There is someone else involved here: You. What do you think? Is Oregon's death penalty system truly "broken," "inequitable" and "compromised," as Kitzhaber insisted Tuesday while announcing his decision to issue a temporary reprieve and block the scheduled Dec. 6 execution of Haugen?

OADP Pleased That Study of the Death Penalty Will Continue

Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP)

Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP) applauds the decision of Governor John Kitzhaber to halt the scheduled execution of Gary Haugen and his call for a full examination of the Oregon death penalty

This action, while courageous on the part of Governor Kitzhaber, also is in line with movement across this country for states to either repeal their death penalty, lessen the use of the death penalty and / or create opportunities to study the death penalty. Governor Kitzhaber has shown great leadership with this announcement.

Governor Kitzhaber Petitioned To Halt Execution of Gary Haugen

November 8, 2011:    Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, along with Oregon Capital Resource Center, Oregon ACLU and Amnesty International, have all signed a petition to Governor John Kitzhaber urging him to halt the scheduled Dec. 6th execution of Gary Haugen.

 The petition lays out several reasons that the Governor should act. Many flaws in the Oregon death penalty system suggest that this execution be stopped and a more thorough examination of the death penalty take place.

This is the text of the petition:

Statesman Journal focuses on death penalty and OADP: From hate to healing

Aba Gayle holds a photo of her daughter, Catherine Blount who was murdered

One mother was able to forgive the death-row inmate responsible for killing her daughter, becoming an advocate against the death penalty

For years, Aba Gayle "lusted for revenge" against the California death- row inmate who murdered her 19-year-old daughter.

But everything changed when she mailed the killer a letter, saying she forgave him.

Paying visits to San Quentin prison, Gayle befriended the man she once despised and wanted put to death.

As hate gave way to healing, she turned against the death penalty.

Inquirer Investigation: In life and death cases, costly mistakes

Mistakes by defense  lawyers can deprive the accused of a fair trial.

Willie Cooper, convicted of strangling his brother's girlfriend to death in a Germantown apartment, was awaiting a jury's decision on whether he should be sentenced to death, when his lawyer rose to speak on his behalf. Citing the biblical passage "an eye for an eye," the lawyer told jurors that the ancient edict called for the death penalty only in the killing of a pregnant woman. Cooper had killed a pregnant woman. Inexplicably, his lawyer had forgotten that. The jury voted to impose the death penalty. Cooper's case is among more than 125 capital murder trials in Pennsylvania - 69 in Philadelphia alone - that state and federal appeals courts have reversed or sent back for new hearings because mistakes by defense lawyers deprived the accused of a fair trial.

Listen to Sr. Helen Prejean's Stirring Speech to Portland City Club

Sister Helen Prejean
On Friday, October 21, Sister Helen Prejean told the amazing story of her life as the moving force of the American movement to abolish the death penalty at the City Club of Portland's weekly forum. And what a story it is--from a privileged childhood in New Orleans to working in the St. Thomas housing project to accompanying six men to their deaths at the hands of the state to meeting the Pope and world leaders, writing books and talking to probably millions of ordinary Americans. She speaks with unparalleled moral authority about America's death penalty and why it must be abolished.

New York Times Opinion: The Death Penalty’s De Facto Abolition

New York Times opinion

October 14, 2011 A new Gallup poll reports that support for the death penalty is at its lowest level since 1972. In fact, though, the decline, from a high of 80 percent in 1994 to 61 percent now, masks both Americans ’ambivalence about capital punishment and the country’s de facto abolition of the penalty in most places.

When Gallup gave people a choice a year ago between sentencing a murderer to death or life without parole, an option in each of the 34 states that have the death penalty, only 49 percent chose capital punishment.

Oregonian Op Ed: The weight of 'playing God': In capital punishment cases, jurors are punished

Oregonian Opinion Editorial

Jurors are unrecognized victims of the death penalty. I have been debriefing jurors after difficult, traumatic trials since 1999. I've learned a lot about how jurors are affected by their service. Many of these trials involved charges of homicide or child abuse, including five death penalty cases. One factor that causes juror trauma is the type of evidence, which is often graphic and gruesome, involving malice and brutality. This is outside the jurors' life experiences, and it exposes them to a difficult, even horrifying, view of the world.

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