Consistent with the National Trend, Governor Brown Maintains Moratorium on Executions

February 20, 2015 - During her first news conference since taking office as governor, Kate Brown said that Oregon's death penalty system deserves broader discussion and she intends to continue the moratorium on executions that has been in place since 2011.

“There needs to be a broader discussion about fixing the system. Until that discussion I am upholding the moratorium . . . imposed by Gov. Kitzhaber.”

David Fidanque, executive director of the ACLU of Oregon, said Gov. Brown’s announcement represents a common sense approach to a difficult and emotional issue. 

“Oregon’s death penalty system is riddled with both practical and constitutional problems,” Fidanque said, “not the least of which is that our state’s method of execution – lethal injection – has led to botched executions elsewhere in the nation and is currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Regardless of the outcome of that case, Oregon’s system provides neither dependable outcomes nor justice.”

Frank Thompson, former superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, applauded Brown’s announcement.

“I agree that leaving the moratorium in place should help lead to a serious and reasoned look at justice and safety in Oregon today,” Thompson said. “Based on my experience working in corrections, capital punishment is a failed and costly public policy in Oregon. I commend Governor Brown’s decision to maintain the moratorium until concerns about the fairness and accuracy of the death penalty system are addressed.”

There are currently 35 people on Oregon's death row. In the last 30 years, Oregon taxpayers have continued to fund the death penalty system yet only two inmates have been executed, and both volunteered for execution by abandoning their appeals.

With this announcement, Governor Brown has kept Oregon aligned with a national trend away from the death penalty and executions. For the first time in decades, a majority of states have abandoned the death penalty in law or in practice. Six states legally abandoned the death penalty in the last decade -- bringing the total number of states that have officially ended the death penalty to 18 -- and eight more states have abandoned the death penalty, sending no one to the execution chamber or adding no new prisoners to death row over the last 10 years.