Outgoing Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed an order Tuesday to commute the sentences of the state’s 17 death row inmates.

The term-limited politician who leaves office in less than a month announced the move Tuesday. She said she would use her executive clemency powers to change the sentences of the inmates to life imprisonment. None will be eligible for parole.

“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 said in a statement.

“Unlike previous commutations I’ve granted to individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary growth and rehabilitation, this commutation is not based on any rehabilitative efforts by the individuals on death row. Instead, it reflects the recognition that the death penalty is immoral.”

The order, signed Tuesday, goes into effect Wednesday.

Oregon has not executed an inmate since 1997, and has only executed two since the state restored the death penalty in 1984, according to the state.

 In this handout photo provided by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, San Quentin's death lethal injection facility is shown before being dismantled at San Quentin State Prison on March 13, 2019 in San Quentin, California. California Governor Gavin Newsom announced today a moratorium on California's death penalty.
Seventeen people have been put to death in this US this year, all by lethal injection.
Getty Images

Upon taking office in 2015, Brown committed to continuing the death penalty moratorium issued by predecessor John Kitzhaber in 2011.

In 2019, Brown signed a bill into law that drastically narrowed the use of the death penalty in Oregon.

The following year, the Oregon Department of Corrections announced plans to phase out death row. It began reassigning inmates to other housing units across the state.

“It is an irreversible punishment that does not allow for correction; is wasteful of taxpayer dollars; does not make communities safer; and cannot be and never has been administered fairly and equitably,” Brown said Tuesday.

Seventeen people have been put to death in this US this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The inmates — all in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, Missouri and Alabama — were executed by lethal injection.

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