Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Aliza B. Kaplan (Lewis & Clark Law School) has posted Oregon's Death Penalty: The Practical Reality (Lewis & Clark Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Governor John Kitzhaber’s suspension of the death penalty and his call to “all Oregonians to engage in the long overdue debate that [the death penalty] deserves” has provided a unique opportunity to examine some of the practical considerations implicated in the death penalty in Oregon and around the country. In this article, I hope to participate in this debate by setting forth a few of the pragmatic reasons why it is not worthwhile to maintain the death penalty in Oregon. In Part I, I explain the history of the death penalty in Oregon. In Part II, I focus on wrongful convictions. Included in this section are stories of innocent people sentenced to death who were innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted, sentenced and imprisoned.Wrongful convictions have significantly changed the discussion of the death penalty around the country. Oregon, like most states, has wrongfully convicted and imprisoned innocent people and thus, there is always the possibility that Oregon could execute an innocent person. In Part III, I examine the costs to taxpayers of maintaining a death penalty system in Oregon and in other states, like Oregon, that rarely execute anyone. In part IV, I focus on Oregon’s inability to administer an effective death penalty — how changes in the law have contributed to Oregon’s lengthy, dysfunctional and costly death penalty system and how potential future litigation and changes to the law will only exacerbate these problems. And last, in Part V, I conclude with the recommendations that the Governor commute the sentences of those currently on death row and that he and the state legislature designate a committee to conduct a comprehensive review of Oregon’s death penalty system — a review designed to assess all aspects of Oregon’s death penalty, to identify its problems and determine whether solutions exist for its overhaul.