Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites

An opportunity to review capital punishment

It's unsavory to think that one person - in this case, Gov. John Kitzhaber - could let personal objections outweigh the wishes of a majority of Oregon's voters.

But that's what happened Nov. 22 when Kitzhaber announced he would prevent all executions under Oregon's death penalty law for the length of his term in office.

Uncomforting as it may be to know the governor holds this much power (at least on this issue), this is a power granted by the state's constitution. And while we may not like this, we also can't help but agree with him.

Oregon has had an on-again, off-again relationship with capital punishment for nearly 100 years. It was nearly 30 years ago (1984) when Oregon voters passed a ballot measure that reinstituted the death penalty.

Much has happened since that time, primarily the scientific advancements in DNA evidence. According to The Innocence Project (innocenceproject.org) hundreds of people have been exonerated in the United States as the result of post-conviction DNA testing. Some of those people did time on death row.

The wrongful execution of even one innocent person should be enough motivation to resurrect the debate over capital punishment. Add to that the waste of millions of tax dollars spent on legal delays for each inmate on death row. And finally, consider the mounting evidence that capital punishment is meaningless as a deterrent.

In the very simplest of terms, we believe capital punishment is the easy way out for people who have committed atrocities. We would much rather know these people live out the consequences of their criminal behavior, confined behind concrete walls, razor ribbon and steel bars.

Nearly 30 years after Oregonians legalized capital punishment, we think it's time to revisit this issue. If nothing else, Gov. Kitzhaber's moratorium on executions has given Oregon that opportunity.