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Oregon governor halts death penalty

One U.S. leader is taking a major stand against the death penalty. Gov.

One U.S. leader is taking a major stand against the death penalty. Gov. John Kitzhaber (D-Oregon) announced yesterday that he would put an end to all uses of the death penalty in his state through the end of his term. "It has been carried out just twice in last 49 years in Oregon. Both were during my first administration as Governor, one in 1996 and the other in 1997," Gov. Kitzhaber said. He continued, "I allowed those sentences to be carried out despite my personal opposition to the death penalty. I was torn between my personal convictions about the morality of capital punishment and my oath to uphold the Oregon constitution."

At issue was the impending execution of death row inmate, Gary Dwayne Haugen, scheduled for December 6. Hardly a sympathetic individual, according to The Oregonian:

Haugen was convicted of aggravated murder in 1981 in Multnomah County for killing the mother of his ex-girlfriend at her Northeast Portland home. He beat the woman to death with his fists, a hammer and a baseball bat and was sentenced to life in prison. Then in 2007 Haugen, along with fellow imate Jason Van Brumwell, was convicted in the 2003 killing of fellow prison inmate David Shane Polin, 31, in the activities area at the Salem prison. According to the state, the two killed Polin, a former Hillsboro resident, because they suspected he snitched to prison officials about their drug use.

In his remarks Gov. Kitzhaber stated, "Let me be clear, I had no sympathy or compassion for the criminals or for anyone who commits the most heinous of acts." But he went on to say that finds the way Oregon administers the death penalty to be both unfair and unjust.

He began his remarks, which you can see above, by saying:

"Under Article V, section 14, of the Oregon Constitution, I am exercising my authority as Governor to issue a temporary reprieve in the case of Gary Haugen for the duration of my term in office. I want to share with Oregonians how and why I came to that decision."