Attorney General, Legislators, Move to End Washington’s Death Penalty
Unlike such efforts in the past, there is actually bi-partisan support this time.
Monday Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued a statement saying in part the current system is broken, costly, and ineffective as well as inhumane.
Ferguson said the legislature has evaded a vote on ending the penalty for years, and now it's time to change that.
Some GOP legislators supporting the idea include House Rep Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla and Senator Mark Miloscia of Federal Way. Walsh issued a statement saying:
“As a means of effective punishment, the death penalty is outdated, Our legal system imposes enormous costs on prosecutors who try death penalty cases, the appeals process costs millions more, and the punishment is ultimately so uncertain that it is difficult to claim that justice is served. Not only is life-without-parole more cost-effective, it also offers the certainty that is an essential element of justice.”
Other legislators said they recognized the heavy responsibility of the topic, but agreed with the idea. Opponents say the death penalty is effective and is a deterrent, but has been watered down and rendered ineffective due to the endless stream of litigation and appeals that keep people from being executed for decades. Legislator Terry Nealy seemed to unintentionally reinforce this idea, while supporting the idea of doing away with it, the former prosecutor said he sympathized with families of victims who go through trials not knowing if the penalty will be handed down.
One of the first actions Governor Inslee took when he came into office was to extend a moratorium on all executions. According to Corrections Office numbers, there are nine people on death row in the state pen in Walla Walla, and the state's last execution took place was in 2010, when Cal Coburn Brown was put to death by lethal injection for the murder of a woman.
Until 1994, all of the state's 78 executions since 1904 were by hanging, when the method was changed to lethal injection.