Democratic Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon has commuted 17 death sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the Associated Press.
The action came with less than 30 days remaining of her term in office.
“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,” Brown said. She hoped her actions would “bring us a significant step closer to finality in these cases.”
Oregon’s last execution was in 1997. Brown’s predecessor, Gov. John Kitzhaber, imposed a death penalty moratorium and Brown continued the policy.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California imposed a moratorium in his state in 2019, shutting down the San Quentin execution chamber and beginning the dismantling of the largest Death Row in the nation. Since 2021, California has been in the process of moving all condemned prisoners to other prisons.
Brown granted clemency to over 1,000 Oregon convicts during her time in office. Lawsuits challenging her actions did not prevail in courts of appeals.
The clemencies included 73 people convicted of violent crimes committed while they were under the age of 18.
Oregon’s Department of Corrections reported in May 2020 that it was phasing out of its Death Row and reassigning those prisoners to special housing or the general population in the Salem prison or other state prisons.