US Governor takes all 17 inmates off death row by using her executive power
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The Governor of Oregon has revealed she's reducing the punishment for all inmates on death row in the state.
Kate Brown - the 38th Governor of Oregon who has served since 2015 - is exercising her authority to grant clemency by lessening the severity of the sentences of the 17 people on death row.
The Democratic politician's order takes effect from today (Wednesday,14 December).
Gov. Kate Brown explained her long-held view 'justice is not advanced by taking a life' and how, 'even if a terrible crime' has been committed, the state 'should not be in the business of executing people'.
She continued: "Since taking office in 2015, I have continued Oregon’s moratorium on executions because the death penalty is both dysfunctional and immoral. Today I am commuting Oregon’s death row so that we will no longer have anyone serving a sentence of death and facing execution in this state. This is a value that many Oregonians share."
The Governor explained her order is not 'based on any rehabilitative efforts by the individuals on death row'.
Instead, the order 'reflects the recognition that the death penalty is immoral. It is an irreversible punishment that does not allow for correction; is wasteful of taxpayer dollars; does not make communities safer; and cannot be and never has been administered fairly and equitably'.
In the commutation of sentence document, Gov. Brown drew on the 'irreversible' nature of such a punishment, how 'innocent people have been executed for crimes they did not commit' and how the death penalty 'disproportionately impacts people of color, people with mental illness, and people who cannot afford expensive legal representation'.
Gov. Brown resolved: "My action today is consistent with the near abolition of the death penalty that has been achieved through SB 1013.
"I also recognize the pain and uncertainty victims experience as they wait for decades while individuals sit on death row—especially in states with moratoriums on executions—without resolution.
"My hope is that this commutation will bring us a significant step closer to finality in these cases."
Oregon holds a conflicted history with the death penalty, state execution having been abolished and reinstated multiple times.
The state last executed someone in 1997 and remains one of 27 states that allows the death penalty.
Instead of facing execution, the 17 inmates previously on Oregon's death row - listed by name in the commutation of sentence document - will now be subject to life imprisonment without parole.
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