Gov. John Kitzhaber
Gov. John Kitzhaber
It would be hard to imagine having a discussion with a colleague about how you plan to kill someone. As unreasonable as that may seem, those kinds of extremely difficult discussions took place among respected and trusted state officials in 1996 and 1997 in anticipation of the executions of Douglas Franklin Wright and Harry Charles Moore.

On Thursday, March 16, former governor John Kitzhaber; Dave Cook, former director of the Oregon Department of Corrections; and Frank Thompson, former superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary, will sit down to provide the inside story on those fateful talks. The public event will take place at the Willamette University School of Law beginning at 7:15 p.m. Admission is free, but tickets will be required.

These are not easy or pleasant things to talk about, but they are necessary to illustrate the impact of having a death penalty in Oregon. While some supporters of capital punishment say it is the responsibility of the state, one must remember that we are the state.

When we have a death penalty in Oregon, employees of the state become intimately involved in any execution. "This discussion will provide a first-hand sense of what it is like to devise a premeditated plan to carrying out the will of the people," states Mr. Thompson. "These were extremely trying and life-changing experiences."

Both Mr. Moore and Mr. Wright were convicted of aggravated murder. They'd given up their rights of appeal and literally volunteered to be executed.

There are alternatives to the death penalty that provide protection of the public and punishment for the offenders that do not include another act of violence at the hands of the state. Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty promotes this vigorous discussion of this issue to help educate both the voting public and the members of the legislature that there are much better ways to seek justice.

To secure a ticket for this event, call 503-990-7060. Seating is limited and will be provided on a first come, first serve basis. A "free will" offering to support the work of OADP will take place following the event.