NEW VOICES: Oregon Leaders Speak Out About the Death Penalty
At a recent event at Willamette University in Oregon, various state leaders in the fields of law and criminal justice spoke critically about the state's death penalty. Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul De Muniz (pictured) said the death penalty was "bad public policy," almost never resulting in an execution. He spoke of having defended a murderer sentenced to death in 1988. Twenty-five years later, the Justice noted, he is now retired after a full career in the law, while the inmate is still in the midst of his appeals on death row. Noting the $28 million spent annually on the death penalty, Justice De Muniz said, “The death penalty is getting a ‘pass’ from legislative scrutiny, when looking for ways to trim Oregon’s budget to fund starving schools and public safety.” The former Superintendent of the State Penitentiary, Frank Thompson, who presided over the last executions in the state, called the current system a “failed public policy.” Thompson said that he was concerned about his staff, who had the responsibility of carrying out executions, and about the risk that some innocent people have been executed in the U.S. Retired Supreme Court Justice Edwin Peterson also announced at the sold-out event that he would begin speaking out publicly against the state’s death penalty.