May 15, 2020

SALEM, Ore.– The Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) announced that the state will close its death row at the Oregon State Penitentiary, where more than two dozen inmates are held in solitary confinement.

While this move neither bars the death penalty in Oregon nor commutes the sentences of those condemned to death, it represents a positive shift away from the use of capital punishment, which we believe is unconstitutional. 

Jann Carson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Oregon, issued the following statement:

“We applaud Oregon for closing our costly and cruel death row and moving to more humane and effective practices that keep prisoners and staff safe. Death row in Oregon is long-term solitary confinement that does not promote rehabilitation or accountability, nor does it make prisons safer.”

“Oregonians recognize that the death penalty is racist, arbitrary, error-prone, and is applied in an unfair and unjust manner against people, largely dependent on how much money they have, the skill of their attorneys, and the race of the victim. Capital punishment has no place in our justice system and must end. Governor Brown should take the next step to move Oregon forward by commuting the row.”  

Cassandra Stubbs, director of the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project, issued the following statement:

“We commend this move by Governor Brown, which aligns Oregon with states that are leading in the effort to build more just and fair criminal legal systems. Long-term solitary confinement is torture and inhumane. All across the country, we are seeing states and people turn away from the death penalty. Since 1976, more than 165 people have been exonerated from death row for crimes they did not commit — the death penalty makes the mistakes and racism of the justice system permanent. There is just no excuse for these punishments in any country we would aspire to be.”

This release is online at https://aclu-or.org/en/press-releases/aclu-applauds-closing-death-row-oregon

Stay Informed