Washington’s governor has halted the use of the death penalty in the state:
Gov. Jay Inslee today announced that he is imposing a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty in Washington state.
Inslee’s decision comes after months of careful review of the status of capital punishment in Washington state including research on current cases, discussions with prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and family members of homicide victims, and a tour of death row and the execution chambers at Walla Walla State Penitentiary.
Inslee said it is clear to him that use of capital punishment is inconsistent and unequal, and it’s time to have a conversation about ensuring equal justice under the law.
“Equal justice under the law is the state’s primary responsibility. And in death penalty cases, I’m not convinced equal justice is being served,” Inslee said Tuesday. “The use of the death penalty in this state is unequally applied, sometimes dependent on the budget of the county where the crime occurred.”
In addition the unequal application of the penalty, the governor cited the expense of pursuing the cases and the lack of evidence that execution is a crime deterrent as additional drivers for his decision. The NAACP called the move “a victory for the African American community.”
Inslee’s moratorium ensures none of the inmates currently on Washington’s death row will be executed while the governor remains in office. Inslee did not commute the sentences, however, leaving the door open for future governors to reinstate the penalty. 18 states have moved to outlaw executions. Six have done so in the last six years.
It’s not clear yet how the moratorium will impact the prosecution of the most recent capital case involving the Capitol Hill area. Christopher Monfort pleaded not guilty to the 2009 slaying of East Precinct cop Timothy Brenton. Prosecutors have said they planned to seek the death penalty in the case. His trial is currently slated to begin in September.