Both the NY Times and the Death Penalty Information Center are reporting that today Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber halted the execution of Gary Haugen—who was put on death row after murdering his cellmate—and declared that there will be no more executions during his term.

Kitzhaber's statement via the NY Times:

"I am convinced we can find a better solution that keeps society safe, supports the victims of crime and their families and reflects Oregon values," he wrote. "I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am Governor."

Oregon currently has 37 inmates on death row but the state has only executed two people since voters approved the death penalty in 1984—and both of those executions took place during Kitzhaber's previous tenure as governor. So, obviously, Gov. Kitzhaber's change of heart comes as a welcome surprise to those opposed to the death penalty.

His decision came after the Oregon Supreme Court Denied a petition on November 21 to delay Haugen's execution. Here's more from Gov. Kitzhaber's statement:

“They were the most agonizing and difficult decisions I have made as governor and I have revisited and questioned them over and over again during the past 14 years,” Gov. Kitzhaber said. “I do not believe that those executions made us safer; and certainly they did not make us nobler as a society. And I simply cannot participate once again in something I believe to be morally wrong.”

I could go into all of the reasons why the death penalty is bad for society (noted here and here) but instead I'll just say this: Here's hoping more states follow Oregon's lead.