Death penalty opponents win minor battle

December 15, 2011

Catholic and other opponents of the death penalty praised Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber for placing a moratorium on the use of the death penalty for the rest of his term.
“Those of us who respect the dignity of human life from conception to natural death applaud this decision,” said Portland Archbishop John G. Vlazny.
Kitzhaber announced his decision Nov. 22, saying he regretted allowing two men to be executed during his first time in office in the 1990s. A Democrat, he was out of political life for eight years before being elected again in November 2010. His new term began in January and ends in January 2015. Having received letters and petitions from Oregon Catholic leaders and other foes of capital punishment, the governor said he is morally opposed to the practice and supports life without parole as the most serious sanction for aggravated murder.
“This is what we have been praying for and asking for,” said Ron Steiner, a member of Queen of Peace Parish in Salem and an organizer for Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
With the moratorium in place, Oregon joins 16 other states and the District of Columbia that do not have the death penalty. Of those 16, Illinois is the most recent one to abolish it, in 2011.