Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced plans Tuesday to commute the sentences of the 17 people on Oregon’s death row to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Brown criticized the practice of capital punishment in a statement Tuesday, saying the death penalty “cannot be and never has been administered fairly and equitably.”
“I have long believed that justice is not advanced by taking a life, and the state should not be in the business of executing people—even if a terrible crime placed them in prison,” Brown said.
Brown has also ordered the dismantling of the state’s execution chamber in an effort to effectively end capital punishment in Oregon.
“Unlike previous commutations I’ve granted to individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary growth and rehabilitation, this commutation is not based on any rehabilitative efforts by the individuals on death row. Instead, it reflects the recognition that the death penalty is immoral.”
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“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,” Brown said.
Brown, a Democrat, first took office in 2015 and will be succeeded in January by Democrat Tina Kotek.
Brown’s order takes effect Wednesday, Dec. 14.