Death Row Inmate Criticizes His Reprieve
Governor John Kitzhaber announced on Tuesday he will not allow any executions while he is in office, calling Oregon's death penalty system "compromised and inequitable."
Twice-convicted murderer Gary Haugen had surrendered all of his legal appeals, saying he wants to be executed in protest of a criminal justice system he deems deeply broken, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Haugen was serving a life-sentence for the bludgeoning death of his ex-girlfriend's mother, Mary Archer, when he killed a fellow inmate in 2003. He was sentenced to death.
Kitzhaber won't facilitate Haugen's voluntary execution, even though he has signed other execution orders. According to Oregon Live:
John Kitzhaber has a perspective on capital punishment that nobody else around quite has. He's the only Oregon governor in 50 years -- and the only one alive -- with his signature on execution orders.
Signing them has stayed with him.
"They were the most agonizing and difficult decisions I have made as governor and I have revisited and questioned them over and over again during the past 14 years," he said Tuesday, explaining why he was refusing to approve the execution of Gary Haugen. "... And I simply cannot participate once again in something I believe to be morally wrong."
Oregon isn't the only state struggling with inmates seeking their own executions, however.
In California, San Quentin inmate Jerry Stanley wants to be put to death for the 1975 shooting of his second wife in front of their two children and the 1980 killing of his fourth wife. Unwilling to spend the rest of his life locked inside one of California's most notorious prisons, Stanley tried to arrange a barter deal in which he would exchange the location of the missing body of his third wife in exchange for a death warrant. Officials declined the deal.
South Dakota inmate Eric Robert killed a prison guard while serving an 80-year kidnapping sentence. He said he will continue to kill unless he is granted an execution.
According to the Los Angeles Times:
Since the modern era of capital punishment began with the 1977 execution of Gary Gilmore in Utah, civil rights advocates and death penalty supporters have debated whether a state would run afoul of laws prohibiting execution of the mentally ill if they bow to a condemned inmate's suicidal impulse.
"Most of these people aren't dropping their appeals because they believe it's the punishment they deserve," said John Blume, a Cornell University law professor and author of "Killing the Willing," a 2005 study of those who abandon pursuit of reprieve.
Texas, Virginia, Oklahoma, Florida and other states with more frequent executions see more inmates asking their lawyers to drop appeals, said Blume, who believes that more than 10% of the 1,277 executed nationwide since 1977 had lost the will to live by the time they were executed.
One of Kitzhaber's criticisms is that only those who volunteer are executed, the Boston Globe reports. In the 27 years since the death penalty was reinstated, Oregon has executed two inmates. They both, like Haugen, waived their appeals.
Haugen has his own criticism.
"I'm going to have to get with some serious legal experts and figure out really if he can do this," Haugen said. "I think there's got to be some constitutional violations. Man, this is definitely cruel and unusual punishment. You don't bring a guy to the table twice and then just stop it."
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