In final month in office, Oregon governor commutes sentences of all death row inmates

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News December 14, 2022

Gov. Kate Brown has commuted the sentences of the 17 people on Oregon’s death row to life in prison.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown

Brown, a Democrat with less than a month remaining in office, said she was using her executive clemency powers to commute the sentences and that her order will take effect on Wednesday.

The relatives of those who were killed by the criminals on death row are furious at Brown’s decision to change the death sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

One death row inmate, Randy Lee Guzek, killed Rod and Lois Houser when he was 18. He shot Lois three times with a handgun and chased her up a staircase before firing a final shot.

Their daughter, Sue Shirley, said: “I’m horrified and outraged and I don’t know what this means. Will true life be true life? All I know is that we never get to have a say,” she said, as reported in Oregon Live.

Another criminal, Christian Michael Longo, murdered his wife Mary Jane and their three children in 2001.

James Baker, Mary Jane’s father, said that Brown’s decision was “wrong” as the family will suffer for the rest of their lives, Oregon Live reported.

Republicans slammed Brown’s decision.

Vikki Breese-Iverson, leader of the minority Republicans in the Oregon House of Representatives, accused Brown of “a lack of responsible judgment. Gov. Brown has once again taken executive action with zero input from Oregonians and the Legislature. Her decisions do not consider the impact the victims and families will suffer in the months and years to come. Democrats have consistently chosen criminals over victims.”

Brown said in announcing the commutations: “I have long believed that justice is not advanced by taking a life, and the state should not be in the business of executing people — even if a terrible crime placed them in prison.”

Brown also directed the Department of Corrections to dismantle the state’s death chamber.

Oregon has not executed a prisoner since 1997 but has not outlawed the death penalty.

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