Life In LC

A Look at the Death Penalty in Oregon

in Headline Feed

5-15 death penalty picEUGENE, Ore. — A man now convicted of two murders — sentenced to death for this crimes.

While David Ray Taylor has been sentenced to death — he may never be executed.

That’s because Gov. John Kitzhaber has put a halt to executions in the state of Oregon.

In 2011 Gov. Kitzhaber announced no lethal injection would take place under his watch.

“In the last 20 years the advent of forensic DNA analysis we’ve had now hundreds of exonerations of innocent people in the United States so I imagine one of the things that motivated it was a concern that we might have innocent people on our death row,” said University of Oregon law professor Carrie Leonetti.

Leonetti says the decision by Gov. Kitzhaber was two fold — potential innocence and concerns about how much it was costing the state.

“Some of the costs come from the proceedings themselves. Typically the actual time that it takes to do a sentencing proceeding, even for somebody who had pleaded guilty in a death penalty case takes weeks or months, as opposed to hours in a non-capital sentencing proceeding,” said Leonetti.

Leonetti says during death penalty cases there’s typically multiple defense attorneys and multiple prosecutors, meaning more legal fees.

The appeals process in capital punishment cases can span years and Leonetti says once convicted — death row itself is expensive.

“It’s a higher security facility. Right so they have to have 24-hour suicide watch I think people don’t share cells typically in death row,” said Leonetti.

And that’s where the debate lies — should the death penalty exist at all?

“On one end there are people who feel very strongly at a very I guess what I would call retributionist level in favor of the death penalty. I think there’s probably an equally sizeable group of people at the opposite end of the spectrum who feel very strongly for moral reasons against the death penalty,” said Leonetti.

Leonetti says in Oregon and across the country there’s a middle ground of people who’ve emerged — who don’t have strong feelings either way, but feel it might too costly.

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