The Seattle Times reports, "Bill to abolish death penalty gets hearing," by Amelia Dickson.
Every year for the past five years, Rep. Reuven Carlyle has sponsored a bill that would eliminate Washington’s death penalty. And every year the bill went nowhere.
But this year, the Seattle Democrat’s bill managed to get a public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. On Wednesday, lobbyists from several organizations — including the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters and the Faith Action Network — testified in favor of the bill, along with several individuals whose family members had been murdered. No one testified against the bill.
Although capital punishment has been briefly banned from time to time through legislative action and court rulings, it has been legal for most of Washington’s statehood. The Legislature most recently passed a law legalizing the death penalty in 1981, and since then 32 people have been placed on death row. Five have been executed. The last time capital punishment was used in Washington was the 2010 execution of Cal Coburn Brown, convicted of the 1991 murder of a Seattle woman.
House Bill 1504 has 21 supporters in the House, including Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, the only Republican who signed on to the bill. But the bill is unlikely to move forward, Carlyle said.
Still, he called the hearing a victory, because it allowed Washington citizens to take part in a global conversation about the morality of capital punishment.
The Times has additional coverage on its website, including video, at, "Poll: Should Washington state repeal the death penalty?" It's by Thanh Tan.
State Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, says the issue is unlikely to get anywhere this year, but he hopes a public discussion — and “the transformational impact of DNA testing” — will lead to passage in the future. His bill proposes replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole. Proponents say doing so would save taxpayers tens of millions in court fees. Washington currently has eight inmates on death row and dozens of other capital punishment cases moving through the system.
Watch the fascinating hearing below, which opens with testimony from staff and both Carlyle and Republican state Rep. Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla. Walsh read a statement from former GOP Gov. Dan Evans, who supports repeal because “the chance for error is too great; the cost too high.” (I’ve posted his full remarks after the jump in this post.) The panel also heard from the family members of two murder victims who oppose the death penalty.
"WA lawmakers consider bill to abolish death penalty," is the AP filing, via NWCN.
An effort to abolish the death penalty has never gained traction in Washington state, but supporters of the endeavor are not giving up.
This year's bill to overturn capital punishment, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Reuven Carlyle of Seattle, will receive a public hearing on Wednesday. It's co-sponsored by 20 other lawmakers, including one Republican, Rep. Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla.
The death penalty is currently used by the federal government and 33 states, including Washington. Seventeen states have abolished it, with Connecticut being the most recent last year.
KUOW-FM, Northwest Public Radio, posts, "House Committee Takes No Action On Death Penalty Bill," by Patricia Murphy.
A House Committee in Olympia took no action Wednesday morning on a bill that would eliminate the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life without parole.Former Washington Governor Dan Evans endorsed the legislation but could not make the hearing. Sixteenth District Democratic Rep. Maureen Walsh read Evans statement to the committee.
“I vowed not to allow any executions during my term as governor. The chance for error was too great and the cost too high. If the death penalty is no deterrent, is enormously costly and riddled with errors, all that is left is revenge. Is that an appropriate goal for a civilized nation? I think not.”
Earlier coverage of the Washington legislation begins at the link.