Washington State Supreme Court declares death penalty unconstitutional

Washington’s Supreme Court has declared that its capital punishment is applied “in an arbitrary and racially

Washington Supreme Court tosses out state's death penalty

Washington's Supreme Court unanimously struck down the state's death penalty Thursday as arbitrary and racially biased, making it the 20th state to do away with capital punishment.

"There is a profound shift in our state and country that the death penalty is below us as a civil, just and moral society", Democratic Sen.

Former congressional candidate Jason Rittereiser would also like everyone to know that he invented the idea of abolishing the death penalty. After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1974 put the death penalty on hold nationally, Washington voters passed a state capital punishment law in 1975 by more than 2-to-1.

Reuven Carlyle (D-Seattle) has led the charge to repeal the penalty for a decade. The court ordered Allen Eugene Gregory's sentence, and the sentences of the other seven men on death row, converted into life in prison. "This is our year and our time".

All five defendants were white, but a study from the University of Washington found jurors in the state were "more than four times more likely to impose a death sentence if the defendant is black", CNN reported.

Inslee said he would sign a bill that abolished the death penalty if the Legislature sent him one, and veto any attempt by lawmakers to reinstate it.

Washington's Supreme Court showed courage in refusing to allow racism to infect life and death decisions. Gov. Jay Inslee (D., Wash.), a one-time capital punishment supporter, declared a moratorium on capital punishment in the state under his tenure upon taking office.

Dunham said it was important that the ruling was based on the facts of Washington's use of capital punishment.

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

"The underlying issues that underpin our holding are rooted in the arbitrary manner in which the death penalty is generally administered", the court said.

Reconvicted May 15, 2012 of first-degree aggravated murder for the rape and murder of 43-year-old Geneine "Genie" Harshfield on July 26, 1996 in Pierce County. It was the furthest any death penalty measure had gotten in the state Legislature after several years of effort. Originally convicted and sentenced to death on May 25, 2001, Gregory's case was overturned by the Washington Supreme Court on November 30, 2006. "A death sentence has become more randomly and arbitrarily sought and imposed, and fraught with uncertainty and unreliability, and it fails state constitutional examination".

"We've been here before", Ferguson said of previous rulings that pointed out problems with capital punishment.

"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.

Asked what he would say to the families who believe the death penalty is justice for murdered victims, Inslee said he respects their feeling and acknowledges their pain in indescribable. But the ruling gives them certainty that all appeals and hearings are ended.

"Everyone is going to die anyway that's not giving justice saying you did this wrong and final justice, it should be something more drastic than living their lives and waiting for them to die", Trapp said.

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