Decision not to redo death penalty law met with anger, joy

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Republican lawmakers were left fuming and justice reform advocates elated after Oregon’s governor decided to not have lawmakers review a new law narrowing death penalty cases. Questions have emerged whether the bill, which takes effect Sept. 29, can apply to crimes committed before that date.

The bill substantially limits the crimes that qualify for the death penalty. Lawmakers understood it applies only to offenses committed on or after Sept. 29, but a top Department of Justice lawyer says it also applies to death row cases returned to lower courts for retrial or new sentencing hearings.

Republican leaders in the Oregon Senate and House criticized the decision to not fix what they called a bungled bill.

The ACLU of Oregon said it’s pleased the new law won’t be watered down.