Thank you Governor Brown: Gov. Brown Commutes of Death Sentences

Press Release, December 14, 2022 Governor Brown has just commuted all death row sentences in Oregon. Our thoughts at Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (OADP) are with the families who have suffered the murder of a family member by someone whose sentence has been commuted. It seems impossible to make sense of senseless acts like a brutal murder. We can only begin to imagine the pain, anger, grief, and challenge that must result from being directly touched by such an act. We understand and respect that some of the families and other Oregonians will agree with Gov. Brown’s decision, some will not agree, and some will be conflicted.

At OADP we want to see all killing stopped. So, we applaud Governor Brown’s courageous act. It builds on Governor Kitzhaber’s moving decision in 2011 to place a moratorium on state-sanctioned killing. It builds on the 2019 Senate Bill 1013 that significantly reduced the number of crimes that qualify as aggravated murder and the death penalty. It cannot have been easy for the Governor to make this decision. We respect and share her reasons for it. “I have long believed that justice is not advanced by taking a life, and the state should not be in the business of executing people — even if a terrible crime placed them in prison.” Prison is the right alternative to the death penalty.

In Oregon, because the death penalty is in our constitution, voters have the final say on whether executions take place in our state. That is why OADP is working to get a ballot measure passed by citizens that will abolish the death penalty in Oregon. Our hope is that Oregon will be associated with the lifeforce of its peoples and its tremendous natural beauty, not with executions. Governor Brown’s decision moves us in the direction of a more humane and effective system of justice.

Tom O’Connor, Ph.D.,
Board Chair,
Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty



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