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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

“We can find a better solution”— Oregon Gov, physician John Kitzhaber

Amnesty International member in Paris protests
U.S. death penalty
Some Refuse to continue going along with U.S. violence
News editing, re-reporting by Carolyn Bennett

“One area of law more than any other besmirches the constitutional vision of human dignity,” former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan wrote 15 years ago. “The barbaric death penalty violates our Constitution. Even the most vile murderer does not release the state from its obligation to respect dignity, for the state does not honor the victim by emulating his murderer,” he said.

Lethal-injection gurney
Huntsville, Texas
Britannica image
“Capital punishment’s fatal flaw is that it treats people as objects to be toyed with and discarded. . . . One day the Court will outlaw the death penalty — permanently.”

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun two years before Justice Brennan affirmed, “From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.…”

Along with a majority of this Court, Blackmun said, “I have struggled to develop procedural and substantive rules that would lend more than the mere appearance of fairness to the death penalty endeavor.  [However], Rather than continue to coddle the Court’s delusion that the desired level of fairness has been achieved and the need for regulation eviscerated, I feel morally and intellectually obligated to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed.” 

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announces
moratorium on executions
Yesterday, the governor of the U.S. state of Oregon, a physician published his decision on the death penalty.

“Fourteen years ago,” Gov. John Kitzhaber wrote, “I struggled with the decision to allow an execution to proceed. Over the years, I have thought if faced with the same set of circumstances I would make a different decision. That time has come.…

“Oregonians have a fundamental belief in fairness and justice — in swift and certain justice. The death penalty as practiced in Oregon is neither fair nor just; and it is not swift or certain. It is not applied equally to all. It is a perversion of justice that the single best indicator of who will and will not be executed has nothing to do with the circumstances of a crime or the findings of a jury. …

“It is time for Oregon to consider a different approach.

“I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am Governor.…

 “I am convinced we can find a better solution that keeps society safe, supports the victims of crime and their families, and reflects Oregon values.

“I am calling on the legislature to bring potential reforms before the 2013 legislative session and encourage all Oregonians to engage in the long overdue debate that this important issue deserves.”

Sources and notes

“Governor Kitzhaber issues reprieve - calls for action on capital punishment” (Salem, OR) –Governor Kitzhaber released the following statement today (November 22, 2011), http://governor.oregon.gov/Gov/media_room/press_releases/p2011/press_112211.shtml

“Gov. John Kitzhaber stops executions in Oregon, calls system ‘compromised and inequitable,’” November 22, 2011, Gov. John Kitzhaber announced today he will not allow the execution of Gary Haugen — or any death row inmate -- to take place while he is in office.  The death penalty is morally wrong and unjustly administered, Kitzhaber said.

Gov. John Kitzhaber announces a moratorium on executions and grants a reprieve to death row inmate Gary Haugen on Tuesday in Salem.
“Oregon Governor Halts ‘Morally Wrong’ Death Penalty,” November 23, 2011, http://www.democracynow.org/2011/11/23/headlines#5

John A. Kitzhaber, M.D., Governor of Oregon

Before his election to the Office of Governor, John A. Kitzhaber served a term in the Oregon House of Representatives (1978), three terms in the Oregon State Senate, then in the office of Senate President (1980, 1985-1993). In 1994 and 1998, he was elected and reelected and returned in reelection to the governorship in 2010.

John Kitzhaber was born in Colfax, Washington, and moved with his parents to Oregon at age 11.  He studied Dartmouth College (undergraduate) and took his medical degree at the University of Oregon Medical School (now OHSU), then practiced emergency room medicine in Roseburg, Oregon (1974 – 1988).

John Kitzhaber’s interest in health care public policy together with a deep concern for the livelihoods of rural Oregonians and a deep love for Oregon's natural heritage compelled him to seek public service. http://governor.oregon.gov/Gov/about.shtml

Abolitionist and retentionist countries — More than two-thirds of the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The numbers are as follows:

Abolitionist for all crimes: 96
Abolitionist for ordinary crimes only: 9
Abolitionist in practice: 34

Total abolitionist in law or practice: 139
Retentionist: 58

Countries and territories that retain the death penalty for ordinary crimes

Afghanistan, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Botswana, Chad, China, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cuba, Dominica, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad And Tobago, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United States Of America, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe

Countries whose laws do not provide for the death penalty for any crime

Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cote D'Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niue, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome And Principe, Senegal, Serbia (including Kosovo), Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor-Leste, Togo, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela

Amnesty International member in Paris protesting the U.S. death penalty, January 2001, Alain Nogues/Corbis Sygma

Lethal-injection gurney in Huntsville, Texas, Paul Buck—AFP/Getty Images


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