It’s rare when a governor takes a courageous stand on the death penalty.
But Oregon’s governor, John Kitzhaber, just announced this week that he won’t allow the state to put anyone to death again while he’s in office.
His decision spares the life of a convicted double murderer who was set to be executed by lethal injection in the next two weeks.
Said Kitzhaber: “I simply cannot participate once again in something that I believe to be morally wrong.”
Kitzhaber was governor in the 1990s, when Oregon executed two prisoners, and that experience has evidently been gnawing away at him.
He called the death penalty “compromised and inequitable,” and said, “It is time for this state to consider a different approach.”
By taking this stand, Kitzhaber joins former Illinois governor George Ryan and former New Mexico governor Toney Anaya in unplugging the machinery of death when they had the opportunity to do so.
Too often, governors refuse to do this. Some governors, like George W. Bush and Rick Perry, relish in playing God or the Grim Reaper.
But Kitzhaber, a medical doctor who takes seriously his oath to “Do No Harm,” could no longer abide getting needless blood on his hands.
He deserves our thanks on this Thanksgiving weekend.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Police Use Excessive Force against Occupy Movement."
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