The Oregon Legislature bumbled a change to Oregon’s death penalty. Gov. Brown needs to stop delaying and call a special session of the Legislature to fix it.
Oregonians were misled about what the law would do. That must be corrected.
The issue is the language in Senate Bill 1013 and the related SB 1005. SB 1013 fundamentally diluted Oregon’s death penalty by narrowing the definition of aggravated murder.
Aggravated murder is the only crime in Oregon that qualifies for the death penalty. The law restricted the definition to acts of organized terrorism that kill two or more; premeditated murders of children younger than 14; and premeditated murders of correctional, probation and law enforcement officers. It would also apply to convicted murderers who kill another prisoner in jail or prison.
Legislators said the law would not be retroactive. Gov. Brown said she did not believe the law was retroactive. Benjamin Gutman, Oregon’s solicitor general, has written recently he believes it would be for cases that are being retried or pending.
Brown opposes the death penalty and had already put in place a moratorium on executions in Oregon. She is having her staff do more research before making a decision about what to do about the law.
Let’s help them. Legislators told the public they did not intend for the law to be retroactive. Brown did not believe the law was retroactive when she signed the bill into law.
If she doesn’t call a special session to clarify what the law does, it will critically undermine the integrity of the Legislature and Brown. Call the special session, governor.