Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Washington State Basically Just Abolished Its Death Penalty

Gov. Jay Inslee left and Attorney General Bob Ferguson address a news conference following an earlier announcement that Washington’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down the state’s death penalty Thursday Oct. 11 2018 in Olympia Wash. Washingt Washington Supreme Court tosses out state's death penalty
Jeannette Daniel | 12 October, 2018, 11:39

The concerns cited in those states have ranged from procedural matters, such as the information provided to sentencing jurors in NY, to worries about executing an innocent person or racial and other disparities in who is sentenced to death, as was the case in Washington.

The Washington Supreme Court has struck down the state's death penalty, saying that it is imposed arbitrarily and with racial bias.

The key evidence for that fact was an exhaustive study by statisticians at the University of Washington of how the death penalty actually works in that state -- when prosecutors seek it, when juries impose it, who eventually gets the needle. As a result of today's ruling, they'll all serve life terms.

When the Legislature considered Inslee's proposal to abolish capital punishment earlier this year, the Senate passed it on a 26-22 vote after refusing to consider amendments to allow the death penalty in cases involving the murder of police officers or prison guards.

Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) has led the charge to repeal the penalty for a decade.

In his appeal Gregory included a study that showed the death penalty was applied differently from one court to another in Washington State and that, all things being equal, the probability of being sentenced to death was 4.5 times higher for African-Americans than for whites.

The court made a decision to convert Washington's current death sentences to life imprisonment.

"There is nothing unique about the role racism played in Washington's death penalty", said Robinson.

Opponents of the death penalty have fought to abolish it for years.

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Gov. Jay Inslee, left, addresses a news conference with Attorney General Bob Ferguson following an earlier announcement that Washington's Supreme Court unanimously struck down the state's death penalty, October 11, 2018, in Olympia, Wash.

"This is very bad", Kathleen O'Bert said after the ruling.

It remains to be seen how final the Supreme Court of Washington's ruling will be.

Capital punishment has been on the decline in the United States for several years, but the Administration of Republican President Donald Trump has said it is considering expanding its use for some federal crimes.

"As noted by appellant", the decision continues, "the use of the death penalty is unequally applied -- sometimes by where the crime took place, or the county of residence, or the available budgetary resources at any given point in time, or the race of the defendant".

The ruling came in the case of Allen Gregory, who was sentenced to death in 2001 for first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree rape. "What is rare is the Supreme Court's willingness to call out the truth that has always been there".

"We are continuing to be victimized", said O'Bert. The governor said he did not expect lawmakers to try, but if they did, he'd veto it.

"I do not believe that is possible", he said, likening it to the biblical reference of a getting a camel through the eye of a needle. He also asked the justices to review his original conviction. Instead of an execution, those families "now have the finality these heinous people are going to die in prison".

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