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Washington Death Penalty Faces Bill to Abolish It

Image: Washington Death Penalty Faces Bill to Abolish It

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced legislation Monday to abolish the state's death penalty.
(Mirko Vitali/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 Jan 2017 12:52 PM

Washington's death penalty is up for debate as state attorney general Bob Ferguson introduced legislation Monday to abolish it.

Ferguson, a Democrat, was joined at his announcement with a bipartisan group of legislators, including former Republican attorney general Rob McKenna and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, The Seattle Times reported.

"There is no role for capital punishment in a fair, equitable and humane justice system," Ferguson said in a statement. "The legislature has evaded a vote on the death penalty for years. The public deserves to know where their representatives stand."

Ferguson's bill is expected to have hearings in Washington's Senate Law and Justice committee and the House Judiciary committee.

State Sen. Steve O'Ban, vice chairman of the Senate Law and Justice committee said he continues to support the death penalty.

"It's obviously a power the government takes soberly," O'Ban said, according to The Associated Press. "But if we value human life, the only appropriate sanction for the most serious crime of taking that precious individual life is the death penalty and should be retained for the most serious cases."

Washington's death penalty has been around since 1904 with 78 men being executed over that time. The last person put to death in Washington state was Cal Coburn Brown in 2010, for the 1991 death of a Seattle woman.

Inslee, though, placed a moratorium on executions in 2014 after claiming that the death penalty was "unequally applied" and receiving it was "sometimes dependent on the size of the county's budget," said the statement from the attorney general's office.

In his statement, Ferguson said he's against the death penalty because he is morally opposed to the state taking lives in the people's name, fears the possibility of executing an innocent person, and is concerned about the increased cost of seeking death sentences.

He said he was also against the concentration of capital cases in the counties with the most resources to pursue them and the ineffectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent.

"Over the last four decades, 156 people have been exonerated from death row across the nation," State Rep. Tina Orwall said in a statement.

"How many more continue waiting for new evidence to prove their innocence, and will they get it before their lives are taken?" she continued.

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Washington's death penalty is up for debate as state attorney general Bob Ferguson introduced legislation Monday to abolish it.
washington, death, penalty, abolish
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2017-52-18
Wednesday, 18 Jan 2017 12:52 PM
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