Death penalty used rarely and unjustly

LaceyFebruary 22, 2014 

Gov. Jay Inslee’s decision to ban executions while he is governor is popular with the people I have discussed it with. Oregon’s governor made the same decision a few years ago.

The people expressing opposition are poorly informed or have a partisan agenda.

Washington executed nobody from the mid-1960s through 1992. It was not a big issue.

Hundreds of homicides occur every year in Washington. The law is written so tightly that few qualify for the death penalty. Usually fewer than 10 are on Washington’s death row at any time, an almost trivial number compared with the overall number of homicides.

Many dozens of death sentences have been imposed over more than 30 years (all by all-white juries), but almost all have been overturned because of serious defects in the trials, so only five persons have been executed.

Nearly all death sentences come from just four of Washington’s 39 counties.

The death penalty is extremely rare in Washington state — so rare that it’s based on whim and bias. Indeed, three of the five persons executed wanted to die. Mental illness and race are major factors.

This is not justice.

Eighteen states prohibit the death penalty. The European Union and many other nations prohibit it. They get along just fine. Every year the U.S. is a major executioner, along with China, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and other nations with horrible human rights records.

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