the death penalty
Oregon's death penalty is broken. Although capital punishment is still a lawful sentence, our state has not executed anyone since 1997 and with good reason. The death penalty is a deeply flawed punishment that isn't doing anything to make us safer.
On taking office in 2015, Governor Kate Brown continued the moratorium on the use of capital punishment. Still, 35 people remain on Oregon's death row.
Despite not carrying out executions, the death penalty is still costing taxpayers a fortune. There's also a high price to pay for victims' families who must relive their ordeal over and over again through many years of appeals.
We know that in other states people have been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death, spending many years on death row before their innocence was discovered.
Repealing the death penalty and replacing it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is the best approach for our state — removing the possibility that an innocent person will be executed, saving limited tax dollars, protecting public safety and providing certainty and justice to the families of victims. Oregon needs to join the national movement to end the use of a punishment that has had its day.
We need to reduce the criminalization and incarceration of young people, particularly youth from disenfranchised communities. The punitive "tough on crime" response to youth crime and misbehavior does not work. Juveniles should not be subjected to mandatory minimum sentences and should always have a meaningful opportunity for earned release. We must recognize and accept that young people are still developing and should be given opportunities for treatment, rehabilitation, and positive reinforcement. Ending excessive sentences and extreme punishments of juveniles is of the utmost importance to protect young people in the justice system and our wider communities.
We are currently in the process of ramping up our juvenile justice work and expect to have it fully developed through our strategic litigation efforts by January 2018. The OJRC will identify and assist juvenile offenders sentenced to life or natural life in prison, and will act as a clearinghouse for lawyers who represent juvenile lifers in state and federal court or pursuing executive clemency. We will advocate for the elimination of life without the possibility of parole sentences for juvenile offenders (in law or de facto) in Oregon. We believe a sentence of life without the possibility of parole or a sentence of de facto life for a juvenile offender is a manifest injustice and unconstitutional, as held by U.S. Supreme Court in Miller and Montgomery, and in light of scientific evidence that the adolescent brain is not fully developed. We will assist individuals with filing the appropriate paperwork in the court system, support their claims with amicus briefs, and collaborate with other organizations and attorneys on these issues.