Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Legislature hears ideas to end capital punishment

Rep. Reuven Carlyle  introduced a bill last week that would eliminate the death penalty in Washington state. If enacted, HB 2468 would impose a punishment of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for aggravated first degree murder.

“The death penalty is beneath us as a civilized society,” said Carlyle.  “It is economically inefficient. It is unjust to the victims’ families because of the frustration of years of delay in allowing a form of closure. It is inequitably applied across race, class and social status. It does not achieve deterrence for other criminals.”
The first electric chair, which was used to execute William Kemmler in 1890.

For more of Rep. Carlyle’s thoughts regarding the death penalty, check out his blog here.

The U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty in 1972 but reinstated it in 1976 giving states the authority to enact death penalty statutes. Thirty-seven states reauthorized capital punishment shortly after the court ruling.

New Jersey, New Mexico, and Illinois recently abolished the death penalty. New Jersey spent $254 million on death penalty convictions without a single person being executed. Only five people have been executed in Washington state since it was reinstated in 1981. According to the state Department of Corrections, eight men are currently on death row with sentences dating back as early as 1991.

A companion bill - SB 6283 – is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary committee on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. To watch the hearing on TVW, click here.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.