Bill to abolish death penalty in Washington introduced

The proposed legislation would eliminate the death penalty in Washington state as a sentencing option for aggravated murder.

OLYMPIA, Wash - Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have announced proposed legislation to abolish the death penalty in Washington state.

The effort was announced Monday at the Capitol. Inslee imposed a moratorium on capital punishment in 2014, but repeal bills introduced since that time have stalled in the Legislature.

Last month, Inslee invoked the moratorium as he reprieved Clark Elmore, who was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl.

Reprieves aren't pardons and don't commute the sentences of those condemned to death. Under Inslee's system, death-row inmates will remain in prison rather than face execution.

Elmore is the first of Washington's death row inmates to exhaust his appeals since the moratorium was put in place. He remains at the state prison in Walla Walla, along with seven other death row inmates.

During Monday's press conference, Attorney General Ferguson said, "it is time for the legislature to take a vote."

Last year, Lee Peden said she was still dealing with the pain of losing her daughter, Genie Harshfield, who was raped and murdered in 1996. Allen Gregory was convicted of the crimes, and he currently sits on death row.

Monday, Peden said, "the people of Washington state should vote on it, not legislators."

Former Attorney General Rob McKenna said he supports the proposed bill, calling capital punishment costly and the appeals process endless.

"This is a system in which justice is delayed and delayed to the point where the system is broken. It isn't working anymore," said McKenna.

State Senator Steve O'Ban said, "a criminal that takes a life in the most abhorrent and heinous circumstance deserves the death penalty, and we should reserve the death penalty for those most rare cases."

 

 

© 2017 Associated Press


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