In 1849, two Washington Native Americans - Cussas and Quallahworst - were hanged for murder. After 162 years and enough mistakes made, we now must take proactive steps to abolish capital punishment and reallocate dwindling state funds to more essential programs.
Fourteen states have abolished capital punishment. Seven more states are following suit. The Illinois Legislature just passed Senate Bill 3539 to abolish the death penalty. Washington state spends millions of dollars per inmate on death row while only a fraction of the amount to incarcerate for life. Costs are excessive because of special jail requirements, mandatory court appeals and the actual killing process. The money would be better spent on victims and cold-case files.
Since 1973, 138 death row inmates in 26 states were found innocent of capital crimes, exonerated and released. Unfortunately, many other innocent inmates have been put to death. Research proves the death penalty is not a real deterrent.
More program cuts are slated for basic health, school funding and the state Capital Museum. This makes me wonder, as countless other state programs get slashed.
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The state’s chronic financial crisis mandates legislators to cut wasteful spending and eliminate our state’s ineffective capital punishment program. Gov. Gregoire and budget director Marty Brown must reallocate these funds to more vital programs.
Death penalty statistics are overwhelmingly macabre and the economic depression is real. This time is now. Let’s get busy.