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Citing Arbitrary Use and Racial Bias, Washington Supreme Court Abolishes State's Death Penalty


Citing Arbitrary Use and Racial Bias, Washington Supreme Court Abolishes State's Death Penalty

Jon Queally, staff writer

Citing racial bias and arbitrary application, the Supreme Court of Washington on Thursday ruled that the use of capital punishment violates the state's Constitution, a decision that will ban the use of the death penalty going forward and immediately commuted the sentences of death-row inmates to life terms.


Go Washington! May another Supreme Court follow suit (yeah, I know).


Abolishing the death penalty is my longest-standing social justice issue. It may not be the most important, and when it is accomplished, the struggle will not be over but it’s the right thing to do. Thank you, Washington State.


Progressiveness is one big reason people are moving to Washington state. So many other regressive states now, people are pouring out of them. I don’t like my state getting so crowded (Wa), but I sure don’t blame folks for wanting to come to the west coast. Proud of my state for doing this, abolish death penalty!


Having death penalty dependent upon location is capricious not justice.

Having it dependent upon race is just plain bigotry.

Scalia has quite a few opinions that need to be overturned, one is namely,

“This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged ‘actual innocence’ is constitutionally cognizable.”

What a schmuck


This will allow the For Profit prison systems to get richer and richer, $50K to $60K each year for each individual prisoner.

Keeping extremely violent murderers and rapists alive in a time when money could be used to help so many deserving of it, in much better ways, seems less than thoughtful, to me.

In my youth, I was a Bleeding Heart Liberal and I was against putting anyone to death, even violent criminals.

Then, as the years went on, I saw the inequity of allowing those who had no respect for human life given that respect, and allowed to live.

As barbaric as it is, putting violent people to death, as the world population exceeds 9 billion, seems justified if we truly are a nation that believes in the law.

Warehousing people the way this country does it, provides little rehabilitation to those who commit violent crimes, and a great deal to those profit from it.


“less than thoughtful” describes much of the US Government’s activities


I was going to use the word rational or logical and ended up with thoughtful.


If you think your very own country should be able to murder its own citizens, move to China, Iran, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

Bu if you want to stay here we are in 5th place behind them.

SO get out in the streets and protest that we need more of mass bloodshed.


Great news! Now, onto eliminating all the societal attitudes, prejudices and institutions that make criminality possible–little criminal goes to jail, big criminal crowned Emperor. In a nut shell: eradicate capitalism.


The problem with the Conservative reactionaries is the narrow range they exhibit in both thought and imagination.


Sometimes the dragon wins!


It IS the most important to a lot of people, especially the mom or dad or child of the prisoner.


Wow, PB! I never dreamed you and I would have such polarized opinions.
1–there are other ways to keep profiteers from raking in money by warehousing prisoners; killing off inmates is not a reasonable solution to greed.
2–you want to talk about a waste of money? Take our military budget and wars down first.
3–giving convicted criminals respect is not the issue, but you could consider that all human life deserves some kind of consideration. Even victims’ families have argued against the death penalty.

4–killing, finally, the prisoner doesn’t punish him. For him, it’s all over in a matter of minutes…or hours depending on the idiots doing the killing. Who does get punished? His mom, dad, wife or partner, son, daughter, brother or sister…none of whom committed a capital crime. Have you seen some of the programs with the affected kids of prisoners? Those kids pay a price, a big price if they’re not helped.
5–yes, such state-sanctioned murder is still murder. What barbarian still lives with him/herself after cold-bloodedly ending someone’s life? Most people in this country believe in some sort of religious or spiritual system. How does this cold-blooded murder fit into their scheme of beliefs?

6–how much capital crime is committed by true mental illness, such as manic episode psychosis or paranoid schizophrenia or drug-induced psychosis or desperation? End that person’s life instead of treating the illness and rehabilitating him enough to give his life a positive purpose in prison (not out in society)?
7–state-sanctioned avenging a crime is a concept borne of punitive religious concepts or too much testosterone or hatred or racism or some other _____phobia or ignorance of the strides science and sociology, among other disciplines, have made in the last century or even earlier. Supposedly we’re more enlightened…obviously that doesn’t include a lot of politicians.

8–a jury of his peers and a fair trial? How many prisoners have been found guilty and put to death only to have some evidence surface later that exonerated him? How many prisoners have been wrongly convicted but still live on Death Row? Do YOU want to be the person who executed him and then found out he was innocent?
9–it’s true that rehabilitation the way this country (most of it) does it doesn’t work. So fix the system. You don’t have to kill someone to fix the system.

10–it’s been proven that the argument for deterrence is baseless.
11–it costs less to house a prisoner than it does to keep him on Death Row for years or decades.
12–the violence of planning to execute someone and doing it and the violence of America’s endless wars are inuring our whole country to the hideous acts our government commits (e.g., Standing Rock, aiding in the murder of Yemenis, killing unarmed Blacks, pouring millions of gallons of oil on lifegiving waters). At what point do we stop and reflect on what we’ve descended to…what reverence for any life do we have still?

13–overpopulation and rats crowded in a cage? Capital execution of a few prisoners is the answer to overpopulation? I know you don’t believe that. I know you don’t support wars as a method of population control. Attack the social problems causing overpopulation and the other contributing factors.

And there are other arguments against the death penalty. I just touched on a few. I hope you’ll reconsider your opinion.

                What ARE our values as civilized people?

  1. If a person is convicted of murder, how is murdering the killer rationalized? Returning violent crime with violent crime in my eyes is also a mental illness.

Addendum: Conducting a war is a mental illness.


Washington’s Supreme Court showed courage in refusing to allow racism to infect life and death decisions. Let’s hope that courage is contagious." —Jeff Robinson, ACLU"Today’s decision by the state Supreme Court thankfully ends the death penalty in Washington," declared Washington’s Democratic Governor Jay Inslee in response to the ruling.

"The court makes it perfectly clear that capital punishment in our state has been imposed in an ‘arbitrary and racially biased manner,’ is ‘unequally applied’ and serves no criminal

Thank you, Washington State – !!

The Supreme Court overturned Death Penalty in 1973, but left an opening for juries to decide.
In 1976, the death penalty was reinstated under a “model of guided discretion.”

Allegedly US citizens still support capital punishment, but hard to believe and its also just another
subject where we hear little debate about the realities of it. We do often see reports of how wrong
the attempts at execution go.


Agreed. Thank you.


The death penalty is far more expensive due to appeals, more lawyers, maintaining a Death Row within the prison, etc. All this costs more than housing the prisoner for his lifetime.

I believe it is far more of a consequence to live the rest of your life in prison than to be executed.



Like I said said earlier, I once believed in rehabilitation for violent criminals.

The means in which our prison system addresses violent crime is in many cases inhumane, and does absolutely nothing to rehabilitate an individual.

Michael Moore’s movie, “Where To Invade Next” showed how some European countries approach rehabilitation of their violent criminals, and they actually treat them as humans, and this results in lower recidivism rates.

Many of these nations do not have the additional problem we face here in the United States of readily available guns.

I’m sure you saw Dolt 45 talking recently about $110 Billion of weapons our government is trying to justify selling to another violent regime, Saudi Arabia, who appears to have been exposed luring and murdering a outspoken dissident of Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps we also have differing views on Abortion, but I doubt it. The two subjects are like night and day.

Perhaps my knowing someone personally who was brutally beaten and raped, and how that affected her life altered my naive view of violent crime and how to treat it.

It all comes down to one thing for me Toni. If one human has been born and raised to adulthood, and hasn’t learned to respect all others right to life, and they through violence, take a life, or severely alter one through their own violent tendencies, they, in my eyes, forfeit any right they had to life.

If this sounds brutal, well hell yeah, it’s brutal. I admit that.


Was your acquaintance’s rapist executed? Did that help her? I doubt it. Recovering from traumatic experience has more to do with facing your trauma than with exacting vengeance.

My Dad, when I was an innocent babe, bore witness by chance to a triple murder and then was asked to witness the murder of the murderer. He (Dad) was a cub reporter in Mansfield OH in the early 1950s. When all the big pens were away, on a Sunday morning, the warden of the Mansfield Reformatory (you’ve seen the building in “The Shawshank Redemption”), with his wife and daughter, were found dead. Three former prisoners were on the run west. Dad got sent to chase them, on the assumption that would be a fairly simple reporting job. The chase took all day, and all but one of the murderers were picked off by authorities.

When the last one was captured, I believe in Indiana (remember, this was the 50s), late in the evening, he refused to talk to anyone or to be returned to Ohio until he could speak to someone from Mansfield. The guy in charge came out on the steps to ask the assembled press if anyone qualified. Dad was in the back of the crowd, having knocked on a door across the street to ask if he could use their phone to check in with his editor (the 50s). He said yes, he was from Mansfield, but he had to get authorization from his editor. He got it and went inside.

The murderer told Dad a horrific story of the warden selling prisoners to other authorities for sex and other forms of slavery. It was a corrupt ring that encompassed the county. He extracted a promise to tell the story. Dad did, and it got picked up by national wire services and got Dad hired up to the NY Herald Tribune. But Dad also promised the prisoner that he would cover his trial, and when he was inevitably sentenced to death, the prisoner asked Dad to witness his execution. Dad did. It was by electric chair.

When the roving nature of his job with the Herald wore Dad out (within a couple of years), he moved to the Columbus Dispatch, and we settled into one of the near suburbs. After a sojourn in the farmland outside Lima, we returned to the North End of Columbus. Our expeditions downtown regularly took us past the Ohio Penitentiary, and we kids would go rowdy about the ghoulishness of the electric chair inside. Mother would hush us as Dad drove on silently. It was 50 years later, after moving to NJ, MA, and FL, that Dad told me what was so awful about that place for him. While he never questioned the justice of the jury’s verdict for death, never could get over the photos he’d seen (of course not published) of the warden’s and his women’s bodies, watching the methodical barbarity of the execution of this man he had talked with, whose story he had told to the world, this man who had suffered so much and had committed murder, not out of vengeance but to stop the injustice he knew was continuing inside the walls of the prison, watching his state commit its own brand of practiced murder had traumatized him beyond anything else in his life. He’d never gotten over it.

Especially because state murder has been committed universally unjustly on racial and class bases, we must. stop. doing it. We are traumatizing our society by continuing.