Media Room

REMARKS AS PREPARED

Governor Kate Brown
SB 1013 Ceremonial Signing Remarks
Thursday, August 1, 2019

Hello, I’m Governor Kate Brown.

We are here today to sign SB 1013 into law, which substantially limits the application of the death penalty in Oregon. 

I would like to begin by saying a few words about my friend, Representative Mitch Greenlick, who is retiring from the legislature after a long and distinguished career and without whom this bill might not have passed.

As many of you know, Representative Greenlick’s impressive and accomplished career didn’t begin in the legislature — before taking office in the legislature, he was a leader in the area of health research. 

The common thread across his life’s work has been championing health care reforms that make Oregonians’ lives better..

Representative Greenlick is well-known for taking a stand, even when an idea goes against current popular opinion, or is on a tough or controversial topic. 

Which brings us here today. It’s well known the death penalty is a challenging issue both nationally and in Oregon. As an opponent of capital punishment, I am optimistic that the landscape of public opinion is shifting under our feet.  

We have seen governors impose moratoriums — as I have done — in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and, just this year, in California. 

We have seen legislatures recently act against the death penalty in Illinois, Maryland, Connecticut, and, just months ago, in New Hampshire. 

And we have seen courts curtail the death penalty in numerous states, including our neighbor to the north, Washington.  

Unfortunately, as is often the case in social movements, progress is not always made in a straight line.  Many of us grieved last week’s announcement that the federal government will begin executions again.

Oregon’s death penalty is dysfunctional. It is costly and immoral. Our state’s criminal justice system continues to impose death sentences, and send people to death row, even as we know that no one has been executed here in a generation.  

This year, thanks to the leadership of Representative Greenlick, Representative Williamson, Senator Prozanski, and others, Oregon’s legislature made the wise decision to “close the front door” — most of the way, at least — to death row, reserving death sentences for only the rarest and most heinous murders. This is an important step, in Oregon and nationally, toward one day eliminating the death penalty nation-wide.  

Thank you all for being here today.