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September 13, 2012

"Oregon's Death Penalty: The Practical Reality"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper available via SSRN and authored by Profesor Aliza Kaplan. 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.

September 13, 2012 at 08:16 AM | Permalink


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Far from inviting a "long overdue debate" -- the debate having been raging over my entire lifetime -- this article, by another academic duly in step with The Required Orthodoxy of Academic Opposition to the Death Penalty -- regurgitates exactly the same kind of stuff we've been hearing over and over for years. Could we get something at least a little new?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 13, 2012 12:18:08 PM


Can we please get something a little new from you?


Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2012 12:44:57 PM

Ditto to anon.

Please review your own regurgitations, Bill.

Posted by: Rudy | Sep 13, 2012 12:50:16 PM


Just add a little Boogie to yer Bull - it will be much more interesting that way.

Posted by: Lou Booga | Sep 13, 2012 12:54:30 PM

anon --

"Can we please get something a little new from you?"

Absolutely, as soon as I see something a little new from abolitionists. Got anything on that front?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Sep 13, 2012 1:07:08 PM

// Governor John Kitzhaber’s suspension of the death penalty… In Part I, I explain the history of the death penalty in Oregon. In Part II, I focus on wrongful convictions. \\

In no part will Kaplan likely assert "why it is not worthwhile to maintain the death penalty" for the execution of the double murderer, G. Haugen, the cause for whom Gov. Kitzhaber thwarted a lawful sentence.

Pourquoi non?

Perhaps due to the: 1. dictatorial manoeuvre of the Governor; 2. *admitted guilt of the murderer; 3. resignation of the murderer to his due sentence; or 4. inconvenient details of the actus reus [below].

Posted by: Adamakis | Sep 13, 2012 2:22:21 PM

o "Haugen has been on death row…for the 2003 fatal beating and stabbing of inmate David Polin."

o "He had been serving [LWOP] for the 1981 beating death of his ex-girlfriend's mother, Mary Archer, of Portland."

o "He broke into her home in Portland, Ore., and waited for her to get there. He then raped her and beat her to death with his fists, a hammer and a baseball bat. He then hid her body in the basement of the home."

o "Polin had sustained 84 stab wounds and a blunt-force trauma to the head resulting in skull fracture [Haugen's latest victim working with an assistant]".

o "When Polin, despite those wounds and loss of blood, somehow still clung to life, Haugen finished him off by bashing in his skull with a large metal rod." wktv.com, bostonglobe.com

These aforementioned facts are "Oregon's Death Penalty: The Practical Reality", indeed.

Posted by: Adamakis | Sep 13, 2012 2:24:33 PM

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