Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oregon's Death Penalty

Two days ago, I read THIS ARTICLE about how Oregon's Governor John Kitzhaber had just blocked the upcoming execution of an inmate on death row. The article caught my attention, mostly because my own views on capital punishment went through a huge transition a couple of years ago. I identified with the governor's struggle with the decision. According to the article, he has in the past allowed two executions to take place, but stated "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." It intrigues me to read that the governor is a medical doctor, having been trained as an emergency room physician. He cites this background as being a part of the reason why he can no longer condone executions. I can definitely understand that. In fact, it's during medical school that I went from strong supporter of capital punishment, to uncomfortable supporter, to where I am now opposed to it. I had been contemplating a blog post about this issue for the last day or two, but then I saw THIS ARTICLE, also from CNN. It's an opinion piece from a law professor in Minnesota, and I highly encourage you to read it. Many of the comments I've read at the bottom of these articles are very angry at Governor Kitzhaber. They call him a coward, they call for his resignation, etc. However, this second article expounds on the constitutional basis for the executive power of clemency, and I think that's well worth the read. It's interesting to note that he did not grant a PARDON to the man, but merely blocked his execution at this point, leaving the possibility of his execution open under a later governor. Governor Kitzhaber is no coward. It took a lot of guts to stand up for his beliefs, which was obviously a difficult decision for him, especially knowing how much heat he would take for it. I am glad he has realized that the capital punishment system is "fatally flawed", and something that needs to be done away with. What do you think? Agree/disagree? In any case, I think it's an important case to read and think about.