LAW REVIEWS: "Oregon's Death Penalty: The Practical Reality"

A recent article by Professor Aliza Kaplan (pictured) of the Lewis & Clark Law School examines Oregon’s death penalty in light of the action take by the state’s governor, John Kitzhaber, to halt all executions. The article explores the history of Oregon’s death penalty, the risk of wrongful convictions, and the costs associated with maintaining capital punishment. Kaplan found that executions are carried out very rarely, and, since 1976 only in instances where the inmate waived his appeals. According to one estimate cited by Kaplan, the cost of putting a person to death in Oregon is at least 50% more, and may be up to five times as much as the cost of a life without parole sentence. For example, Oregon taxpayers have paid approximately $2.2 million on the case of Randy Lee Guzek, who has been on death row for 24 years and is still not at the end of his appeals. Kaplan concludes, “While capital punishment remains on the books in Oregon, it is carried out rarely and only for volunteers; it moves at a snail’s pace and is absorbing millions of dollars. Oregon’s death penalty is long overdue for an examination as a public policy; its problems and alleged benefits should be weighed.”

(A. Kaplan, “Oregon’s Death Penalty: The Practical Reality,” 17 Lewis & Clark Law Review 1 (2013); DPIC posted April 9, 2013). See Costs, Oregon and Law Reviews.