18 May 2020 :
Oregon Department of Corrections officials said Friday the agency will eliminate the state’s death row area of incarceration. Death row inmates live largely together in a unit at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. Prisons officials said in a statement that the elimination of the space that houses death row does not mean inmates’ death sentences will change. Eliminating death row reflects the department’s decision to begin making individualized housing decisions regarding people sentenced to death, and a decrease in the numbers of those people, officials said. In the last 50 years, Oregon has executed two death row inmates. Voters have repeatedly implemented and repealed it from the state’s Constitution. In 2011, then-Gov. John Kitzhaber implemented an execution moratorium, which Gov. Kate Brown has continued. Currently, 29 people in Oregon are sentenced to die. Of those, 27 inmates live together in a unit at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem. They will be moved to general populations and other housing units in the state’s six maximum security prisons. Two other inmates convicted of capital crimes already live in other prisons, including Angela McAnulty, the only woman in Oregon with a death sentence. Oregon is the sixth state in the last year to significantly change the conditions of incarceration for death-row prisoners, but only the second to do so without a lawsuit or the threat of legal action. Virginia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania have all ended automatic solitary confinement for death-row prisoners. Prisoners in those states have gained access to programs and rights previously reserved for general population prisoners, including educational and occupational programs, group religious services, and contact visits with family members. California announced the creation of a pilot program in February 2020 to allow some of the state’s death-sentenced prisoners to move from San Quentin’s death row to general population in other maximum security prisons that offer work and other rehabilitative programs.