There are only a few days left until changes to Oregon’s death penalty law take effect
And with no special legislative session scheduled, Central Oregon’s local representatives are worried about unintended consequences.
Senate bill 1013 was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown in August, greatly reducing who can be sentenced to death in Oregon.
When the bill was signed it was believed it would not affect current death row inmates. But according to lawyers with the Oregon Department of Justice the law does in fact apply to those cases, based on its current language, and could give death row inmates another reason to appeal.
Deschutes county District Attorney Hummel and other Central Oregon representatives have called on Gov. Brown to hold a special session to rewrite the bill, but so far she has declined.
“It’s a one sentence fix, you say that the law applies to future crimes only, not to past crimes,” Hummel said. “The governor says she’s not going to do it because she doesn’t believe she has the votes, I say one you may have the votes and two I don’t care! Put it on the floor, have a vote, and then we’ll know if we have the votes.”
Hummel isn’t alone in his request.
All of Central Oregon’s elected officials at the statehouse have urged Gov. Brown to address the issue with a special session.
Together Wednesday, they released a joint statement on how the bill “could could inflict more mental trauma on the victims’ families when they have to relive the atrocities committed by these perpetrators when coming face-to-face with them in court.”
“Victims and their families are asking us to act, and we are ready and willing to participate in a Special Session. There is still time to address the confusion caused by the passage of Senate Bill 1013. We cannot fathom the anguish these families feel, knowing
that the retroactive nature of SB 1013 could lead to the release of individuals who caused them such pain. Our court system and our fellow Oregonians deserve clarity on this critical issue. We must stand up for victims and their families, and for the integrity of the
“SB1013 could affect cases like that of Randy Lee Guzek, who was convicted of killing a Terrebonne couple in 1987. He has lost four appeals, but with the current wording of SB1013, he would get a reduced sentence,” according to the statement.
The statement was co-signed by Hummel, Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend), Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond), Representative Cheri Helt (R- Bend), Representative Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles), and Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson, (R-Prineville).