Oregon’s voters elected a new governor in November 2022. The outgoing governor took a strong, smart action before her term expired.
See news here: https://www.opb.org/article/2022/12/13/oregon-governor-kate-brown-death-penalty-sentence-commutations/?
The news was reported at this link too: https://www.opb.org/article/2022/12/13/oregon-governor-kate-brown-death-penalty-sentence-commutations/?utm_source=The+Marshall+Project+Newsletter&utm_campaign=97d1f68c90-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2022_12_14_12_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5e02cdad9d-97d1f68c90-%5BLIST_EMAIL_ID%5D
In a few states people are considering whether to use their initiative process to gather signatures and force a statewide election to abolish the death penalty. That is a long, hard, expensive slog. A ballot initiative is not necessary.
Oregon’s law is still on the books until the legislature repeals it. But in late 2022 Oregon’s Governor commuted the sentences of all people on that state’s death row – and ordered the dismantling the execution chamber – so these actions effectively stop Oregon’s death penalty. This provides a strong incentive for prosecuting attorneys to stop filing death penalty charges, so this should shut down the pipeline of new death sentences. I hope the legislature will follow through.
In Washington State (where I live), here are the milestones from 2014 and 2018, according to the Death Penalty Information Center:
On February 11, 2014, Governor Jay Inslee announced that he would issue a reprieve for any death penalty case that reaches his desk. He indicated that he did not intend to commute the sentences of the nine men on the state’s death row as part of this moratorium, but no executions are expected to occur while he is governor.
On October 11, 2018, in State v. Gregory, the Washington Supreme Court declared the state’s death penalty statute unconstitutional, saying that it was applied in an arbitrary and racially discriminatory manner. You can read the pleadings filed in the Washington Supreme Court here.
We tried for several years to get the State Legislature to actually repeal the law, but – although we came close — the Legislature failed to do that. But because the 2018 State Supreme Court decision was UNANIMOUS in ruling it unconstitutional, there is ZERO likelihood of any new death penalty prosecutions. This Supreme Court decision commuted the death sentences of the people on death row.
In May 2022 our Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (in which I had been very active since 1987) disbanded itself.