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Senator O’Ban offers law forcing Gov. Jay Inslee to follow death penalty law

Tacoma State Senator Steve O’Ban is trying to right the wrongs of Gov. Jay Inslee’s death penalty moratorium by forcing the governor to obey state law.

O’Ban talked to KTTH host David Boze Thursday to discuss a bill he’s trying to pass that would require the governor to hear the recommendations of the state’s death penalty clemency board before making a decision whether to execute.

A goal of the law is to restore respect to the victims of death row inmates. When Inslee announced his death penalty moratorium two weeks ago, he said that he made the decision, in part, after speaking with victims’ families.

O’Ban has discovered that that’s not entirely true; Inslee only spoke to one family.

“We had the governor’s representative at [a hearing for the clemency bill], and all she could say with any certainty was that they contacted one family,” O’Ban said. “[Inslee] only contacted one family.”

“It’s so obtuse,” Boze replied.

O’Ban’s Senate Bill 6566 affirms the authority of the clemency and pardon board in making recommendations to the governor regarding executions, including hearing from all sides in the matter – law enforcement, victims’ families, and the inmate’s attorney.

O’Ban hosted a number of families during a Feb. 26 hearing in front of the Senate Committee on Law Justice for the bill.

“Cecil Davis murdered my mom in a very brutal fashion,” said Jessie Ripley, daughter of Jane Hungerford-Trapp, who Davis murdered in 1996, during a press conference on Wednesday. Davis later murdered another woman. “He beat her so badly she was unrecognizable … and he just left her body on the steps for a stranger to find. Davis is a monster who gave up the right to have rights.”

O’Ban said he expects the law to pass the Senate, where a bi-partisan coalition holds the majority, but does not expect it to live through the Democrat-controlled House.

“In my view, there should be no real controversy about this bill,” O’Ban said. “Unfortunately, I expect all the [Senate] Democrats to vote against it. That is a harbinger that in the Democrat-controlled House, it’s not going to get very far.”

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