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Oregon lawmaker seeks death penalty repeal

Nov. 21, 2012 at 4:41 PM

PORTLAND, Ore., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A year after Oregon's governor said he will stay all death sentences, a state lawmaker said he plans to announce legislation to repeal capital punishment.

State Rep. Mitch Greenlick, a longtime opponent of the death penalty, said he would take up Gov. John Kitzhaber's call to end the practice of state-sentenced executions and has authored a bill that would replace it with a sentence of life in prison without parole.

If the law passes the Legislature, it would go to a ballot referendum in 2014, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Tuesday.

Greenlick said the death penalty is both a moral and fiscal problem, with taxpayers on the hook for years, sometimes decades, of court proceedings that rarely result in an execution.

"Eventually [voters] are going to understand that this is either a fiscally correct thing to do or a morally correct thing to do," he said.

The state has a history of going back and forth on the issue. Capital punishment was a part of the Oregon constitution until 1964, when it was removed by a referendum. It was added back in 1981 via referendum and has remained a part of the penal code since then.

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