November 7, 2011 - The ACLU of Oregon has joined other death penalty opponents in sending a petition to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber urging him to take the bold action of stopping the pending execution of death row inmate Gary Haugen. Oregon’s death penalty system is broken.
It is expected that Haugen, who has had life-long bouts of mental instability, will be executed at 7 p.m. on December 6. As our petition to the governor points out, Haugen has decided to waive his rights to further court appeals because he views a life sentence as worse than a death sentence.
Other states that use the death penalty have begun to study how those systems operate. Oregon should do the same. We have never conducted a thorough review of our capital punishment system to determine if it has problems, is cost effective or fair.
We believe Oregon’s death penalty system is:
- Expensive – death penalty cases are far more expensive to try than are life without parole cases;
- Overbroad – Oregon currently has 37 people on death row. Washington State, with double the number of murders, has only eight.
- Arbitrary – Oregon is one of a handful of states that does not have any safeguards in place to review cases for proportionality. Proportionality ensures only the worst of the worst are sentenced to death.
- Troubling – Oregon has a significant number of people on death row with severe mental disabilities.
Additionally, the risk of a botched execution is real. Oregon continues to use a 3-drug lethal injection protocol that other states have abandoned due to an alarmingly high rate of botched executions.
For these reasons, and more, ACLU of Oregon urges Gov. Kitzhaber to stop the execution, to create a de facto moratorium on the death penalty, and start the long-overdue examination of Oregon’s capital punishment system.