Governor Calls For Fix Of Death Penalty Law

kate brown

Governor Kate Brown released the following statement calling for a special session regarding ambiguity around Senate Bill 1013:

“Based on the clarification by the Oregon Department of Justice, it is clear there is a misunderstanding about the intent of the words in Senate Bill 1013. Given the seriousness of the issues that we’re dealing with and the impact on victims and their families, I think it’s critically important that there be clarity about the law.

"I will support a statutory fix to address the misunderstanding regarding the bill’s retroactivity. I’ve spoken to Senator Prozanski and I’m willing to support a special session. I expect legislators to work with stakeholders and legislators across the aisle and around the state to craft the language and get the votes. Should that be accomplished, I will call a special session before the end of September, and the session needs to be focused on this narrow issue.”

The new law narrows the definition of Aggravated Murder convictions to two or more people killed in a terrorist act, killing a child younger than 14, killing a police officer or if an inmate charged with murder kills another inmate. Legislators were told it would not be retroactive, but the Oregon Department of Justice reviewed the law and determined it could be applied to past convictions.

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum supports a fix to the law. “I am very pleased the Governor supports a special legislative session to address the issues associated with SB 1013, which takes effect on September 29th. We must make sure we get this law right. As the Oregon Attorney General, my chief responsibility is to implement and defend the laws of Oregon, as they are written and adopted. I look forward to working with the legislature during a special session to make sure our courts, prosecutors, defenders, victims and others have the clarity and guidance they need in connection with our most serious criminal cases.”

House Republican Leader Carl Wilson issued the following statement regarding the potential Special Session in September:

“The last thing we should do in this situation is quickly rush something through a compressed process. We do not want to compound the existing mistake by rushing a ‘fix’ through a day-long session in a hastily assembled committee. It is troubling that we are in this position because of inaccurate information provided to legislators when this bill (SB 1013) was passed. Whether they supported or opposed the bill, all legislators were told by the advocates for the bill that this legislation would not be retroactive. That was during a five and a half-month session with plenty of time for all stakeholders to weigh-in.

“At this juncture, perhaps the best course of action in a brief Special Session would be to simply repeal the bill. Victims, their families, law enforcement and the courts deserve clarity and closure on this matter. That would also allow ample time before the 2020 Regular Session to analyze what, if anything, might otherwise be done on new legislation regarding the death penalty. Since the people enacted the death penalty in 1984 via Measures 6 and 7, I would encourage any changes to the death penalty be referred to the people for their wisdom on this critical matter via ballot measure.”

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