Oregon State Bar Bulletin — APRIL 2002

First-Ever Book on the History of Oregon Death Penalty Published

Oregonians have decided the issue of capital punishment seven times - more than any other state in the nation. In his new book, A Tortured History: The Story of Capital Punishment in Oregon, author William Long documents Oregon's struggle to punish the crime of murder from the days of the earliest territorial government through each movement to restore or abolish the death penalty.
Long, a former pastor, Reed College professor, Oregonian editorial writer and now an attorney with Stoel Rives in Portland, has amassed a vast amount of material from disparate sources. The first chapter ('Oregon's Death Penalty Today') reviews the way the death penalty has been implemented in Oregon since it was restored by a vote of the people in 1984. Long then turns to an historical sketch of the death penalty in Oregon from earliest days. Other sections look at the appeals process, procedural complexities, mitigating circumstances and a critique of Oregon Supreme Court decisions on the death penalty since 1984. He also discusses how Oregon became the only other state in the country to adopt as a model the death penalty statute of Texas.
The author expects the reader to come to his or her own conclusions regarding the death penalty. But he does promote the thesis that since its reinstatement in 1984, the death penalty's toll has exceeded its benefit. He argues that the burden of proof is now on supporters to articulate why maintaining the death penalty is good public policy.

[A Tortured History: The Story of Capital Punishment in Oregon, by William R. Long, published by the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, ISBN:
0-9714035-0-3; 242 pp., $19.95, paper. Available in bookstores or www.ocdla.org.]

© 2002 William R. Long

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