On Tuesday, November 22, 2011, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber banned the death penalty for the rest of his term due to a moral opposition.
It is perfectly fine for John Kitzhaber to have an opinion about the death penalty. However, it is not okay for him to go against the people he is representing. If the people of Oregon are in support of the death penalty, the death penalty should be carried out. No questions asked.
As a whole, Oregon has been on the fence about the issue concerning the death penalty over the years. Voters have outlawed and legalized capital punishment twice. The State Supreme Court has even “struck it down once.” However in 1984, Oregon legalized the death penalty with a 56-44 vote.
Since the legalization of the death penalty in 1984, two executions have been made. Kitzhaber said he should have never allowed Douglas Wright and Harry Moore to be executed in 1996 and 1997. It is not his responsibility to allow or prevent executions. A judge and/or jury are responsible for those decisions. Kitzhaber has described the death penalty system in Oregon as “an expensive and unworkable system that fails to meet basic standards of justice.”
Since this recent ban on the death penalty, Kitzhaber has preventing the upcoming death sentence for Gary Haugen who was scheduled to be executed later this month. Haugen is a twice convicted murderer and has spoken directly of his opposition to this ban. He hired a legal team to express concern that “leaving an inmate uncertain of his execution is psychological torture.” Maybe this argument will prove to be effective and allow the death sentence to be carried out.
John Kitzhaber’s moral opposition and duty as a physician to “do no harm” are not legitimate reasons for him to ban the death penalty. According to the vote in 1984, Oregon wants to utilize capital punishment. Personal beliefs aside, the wishes of these people should be carried out. Kitzhaber stated his duties as a physician, what about his duty as governor to represent the wishes of the people of Oregon?