OLYMPIA, Wash. — The state of Washington has not executed anyone since 2010 and a law signed by Gov. Jay Inslee Thursday prevents the death penalty from being implemented in the future.
“Let’s be clear, by this action, we are ending the death penalty in the state of Washington, period,” said Inslee.
In 2014 Inslee vowed to never sign a death warrant while in office.
The state Supreme Court invalidated the law in 2018, ruling it was “racially biased.”
"We know this to be true," said Inslee before signing the bill, "The penalty has been applied unequally and in a racially insensitive manner."
Gerald Hankerson, president of the Seattle King County NAACP, stood beside the governor during the bill signing.
“Study after study has revealed how people of color are the most likely to get the death penalty,” said Hankerson, “To finally remove the noose from around our necks is substantial."
The issue is personal to Hankerson, who was sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole for a 1987 murder. He was sentenced as an accomplice after another man stabbed someone to death.
In 2009 then-Gov. Chris Gregoire granted Hankerson clemency after two witnesses to the murder changed their stories.
Ever since his release, Hankerson said he has been fighting to ban the death penalty to protect others who may eventually be released.
“Once you send us to die, it’s over,” said Hankerson, “Now we’re in a place now where we don’t have to worry about that happening in Washington state. I’m excited about that.”