Since You Asked: Execution decision rests with governor

I read where there's an Oregon inmate who's facing the death penalty soon. I'm pretty sure the governor could grant him a reprieve, but I wonder how that process works.

Does the Legislature have to approve it, too, or is it just up to the governor?

— Will B., Ashland

It's the governor's decision, Will, and the process is outlined in the Oregon Revised Statutes, titled "Executive Clemency," and starting with ORS 144.649, which gives the governor authority to "grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, after convictions, for all crimes ..."

The process starts when the convicted person submits a request for a reprieve from the death penalty. The request is required to be sent to a number of offices, including the district attorney's office in the county where the conviction occurred.

Those offices may provide additional information to the governor, as may the victim or victim's family.

The governor must wait at least 30 days before granting a reprieve, but must act within 180 days to grant a reprieve.

The Legislature is not involved, but the governor is required to file a report with the Legislature describing each reprieve, commutation or pardon he or she grants.

All the papers presented to the governor related to the case must be given to the Secretary of State, and kept as public records.

None of the above may matter in the case in which you're likely referring to Gary Haugen faces death by lethal injection after he killed another prisoner in 2003.

He already was in prison at the time for a 1981 murder. But Haugen has said he does not intend to appeal his sentence and he may be executed this summer.

There are 37 people — 36 of them men — on death row in Oregon. None of the current death row cases came from Jackson or Josephine counties. The state's last execution was in 1997.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to

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