WA Senate passes bill to repeal death penalty, measure heads to the House

Feb 4, 2020, 5:57 PM
death penalty, Washington state...
The Washington state Senate passed a bill to repeal the state's death penalty. The measure now heads to the state House for consideration. (AP)

The state Senate has passed a bill to eliminate the death penalty in Washington, renewing the battle in Olympia.

The bill that passed in the Senate last week is the same bill that passed last session. It’s an ongoing request from Attorney General Bob Ferguson, sponsored by Democratic Senator Reuven Carlyle, who said a 2018 state Supreme Court ruling on Washington’s death penalty has led to confusion.

In the 2018 ruling, the court found Washington state’s death penalty unconstitutional as applied.

State Supreme Court ends death penalty in Washington

“The death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner,” the justices wrote in their unanimous decision.

That left three possibilities: Leave it on the books as is — entirely unenforceable after the court’s decision — take legislative action to fix it, or take action to abolish it.

Carlyle says it’s time to abolish.

“It simply does not work effectively,” Carlyle said before a floor vote last week. “It’s not economically efficient. It’s not applied equitably across rural, and urban, and other jurisdictions, and there’s a great deal of subjectivity and discretion in a policy that does not fit well.”

Fellow Democrats agree.

“Probably only four counties can even afford to pursue death penalty cases and in the rest of the state, if you commit the exact same crime, you’re likely to go without that as a possibility for punishment,” said
Senator Jamie Pedersen.

The proposal to repeal Washington’s death penalty passed the Senate with a bipartisan 28-18 vote on Friday.

“It really is time for our branch to put the final nail in the coffin, so to speak, to eliminate this possibility to give certainty to everyone involved in the justice system that when someone is convicted of aggravated first-degree murder that they bear the consequence of spending the rest of their natural lives in prison,” Pedersen said.

Now, Republican Rep. Jenny Graham is rallying the troops to defeat the bill in the House.

Graham, whose sister was killed by Gary Ridgway (a.k.a. the Green River Killer), said without the death penalty she and other families of Gary Ridgway’s victims would have been left in the dark.

“Without the death penalty, without him having fear of losing his own life, we would not know what happened,” Graham said Monday. “ … He was only going to be charged with eight of those murders. He did not want to die. It was only because of that that the community got the answers as far as what happened, and we family members were able to find out what happened.”

At the same time, supporters of abolishing the death penalty argue if someone like Ridgway can bargain his way out of a death sentence after killing dozens of women and another person is sentenced to death for killing one person, it proves capital punishment is unfairly handed out.

Bill to abolish Washington death penalty moves forward in Olympia

Graham led a successful effort against this bill in the House last session and is preparing to do it again.

“And I am putting out a call to action to all victim’s families or even just concerned citizens,” Graham said. “I need help fighting this.”

Graham encouraged anyone wanting to fight the bill abolishing the death penalty in Washington to reach out to the Legislature.

Local News

MyNorthwest Staff

Kent seeks refunds for missed trash pickups as collection resumes for Western Washington

Trash collection worker solidarity strikes ended Tuesday for Western Washington as Republic Services ratifies a new contract with Teamsters.
1 day ago
COVID-19 deaths, Snohomish County...
KIRO Newsradio Newsdesk

‘Occupancy is virtually 100%’: Just one available ICU bed in all of Snohomish County

As of Tuesday morning, there is only one intensive care bed available in all of Snohomish County, as hospitals continue to feel the strain.
1 day ago
King County COVID...
Nick Bowman

King County COVID cases finally trending down, but ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’

After soaring to record numbers in January, COVID-19 cases in King County appear to finally be trending in a downward direction.
1 day ago
Rumors camps...
Nick Bowman

UW expert: False rumors about forced quarantine for unvaccinated were ‘strategically amplified’

Rumors claiming that the state would soon be setting up forced quarantines for the unvaccinated spread like wildfire in recent weeks.
1 day ago
MyNorthwest Staff

New mass COVID vaccination site opens in Snohomish County

A new indoor COVID-19 vaccination clinic opens at the Everett Mall on Tuesday, and Snohomish County says a mass testing site is coming soon.
1 day ago
Washington ferries...
MyNorthwest Staff

Washington ferries move ‘most routes’ to alternate schedules amid ongoing crew shortages

Washington state ferries have continued to deal with delays, staffing shortages, and reduced routes to kick of the new year.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
WA Senate passes bill to repeal death penalty, measure heads to the House