Last night I attended a viewing of the new documentary film “In the Executioner’s Shadow” at the Grand Theater in Salem, sponsored by Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Following the film, I joined a discussion panel with former Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul J. De Muniz; Jeffrey Ellis, the director of the Oregon Capital Resource Center; and Frank Thompson, who was superintendent of the State Penitentiary when Oregon’s last execution took place in May 1996, during my first term as governor.
It was my direct experience with capital punishment, the memory of which has haunted me for decades, which led me to declare a moratorium on executions during my third term as governor in 2011 and to join those working to find alternatives to the death penalty. Last month I joined five other former governors in New York Times guest editorial urging former California Governor Jerry Brown
I appreciate how controversial this issue is and the strong emotions it evokes. However, whatever your personal position may be the death penalty, “In the Executioner’s Shadow” is a thought-provoking film well worth watching when it comes to your community over the next few months.