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Death Penalty

Ore. Governor Halts Executions; Death Row Inmate Likely Disappointed, Lawyer Says

Posted Nov 23, 2011 7:34 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has imposed a moratorium on executions in the state two weeks before an inmate was scheduled to die for killing a man in prison.

In a press conference, Kitzhaber said the death-penalty scheme is “an expensive and unworkable system that fails to meet basic standards of justice,” report the Oregonian and the Associated Press. "I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer and I will not allow further executions while I am governor,” he said.

Currently the state executes only those inmates who waive legal appeals, the Oregonian says. Gary Haugen, who was scheduled to die on Dec. 6, was one of them. He was sentenced to death for murdering an inmate while serving a life sentence for murdering his ex-girlfriend’s mother. After legal appeals over his competence, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the execution could proceed.

Haugen’s lawyer, Steven Gorham, tells the Oregonian he expects his client will be disappointed by the governor’s decision. According to the newspaper, Haugen “chose execution as a political protest and a path to freedom from the confines of death row.” Gorham told AP that, despite his client’s views, he was personally pleased with Kitzhaber’s decision.

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