23 May 2019 :
Senate Passes SB 1013 Limiting State Death Penalty. A proposal to pare down Oregon’s death penalty law is moving forward, after being approved by the state Senate on Tuesday. What some regard as the most meaningful effort to curtail the death penalty in recent memory passed in an 18-9 vote that largely stuck to party lines. If passed in the House and signed by Gov. Kate Brown, Senate Bill 1013 would redefine the crime of aggravated murder, the only offense punishable by death in Oregon. The bill would strip out many elements that currently constitute the crime, moving them to newly created classes of murder. Moving forward, aggravated murder would be limited to homicides where 2 or more people are killed to intimidate a civilian population or influence a government — crimes that are associated with terrorist acts. Defendants who murdered children under the age of 14, or killed another inmate while serving time for a murder conviction, could also be sentenced to death. Capital punishment was approved by voters in 1984, and could not be removed from the Oregon Constitution without a public vote. While opponents of the death penalty concede such a vote could be a tough sell, they have argued lawmakers have the prerogative to alter what crimes are punishable by death. Despite being on the books, capital punishment is rarely used in Oregon. Then-Gov. John Kitzhaber declared a moratorium on executions in 2011, and Gov. Kate Brown has continued the policy. Just two inmates have been executed in the state in the last 50 years, and both had ceased fighting their sentences.