NEW VOICES: Former Death Row Warden Seeks Repeal of Death Penalty in Oregon

Frank Thompson, a former state penitentiary warden, has recently joined efforts to repeal the death penalty in Oregon. Thompson, who supervised the only two executions carried out in the state since capital punishment was reinstated in 1984, described the death penalty as a “failed public policy,” and said that “capital punishment fails terribly in meeting any evidence-based outcomes.” Thompson, who recently joined the Advisory Council of Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said the state cannot afford the death penalty during these tough economic times when Oregon is threatening layoffs and cuts in public services. He estimated the cost of maintaining the state’s death penalty system as $9-20 million each year, and said he supports life without parole as an alternative to capital punishment. In November 2011, Governor John Kitzhaber declared a moratorium on all executions in the state, calling on legislators to bring potential death penalty reforms to the 2013 legislative session and to consider alternatives to the death penalty. Thompson remarked, “I think taking another look at capital punishment is very timely, and with the governor’s decision it really moves it to the forefront.”

(A. Gustafson, “Former Oregon warden seeks end to death penalty,” Oregon Statesman-Journal, January 15, 2012). See New Voices and Costs. See also Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.