"It’s time for the state to end the death penalty," is the Sunday Seattle Times editorial.
CAPITAL punishment fails the sober metrics of good public policy. Rarely used, it does not make citizens safer. It is applied inequitably, even randomly. It is much more expensive than alternatives. And it exposes the state to the risk, however small, of making a heinous mistake.
Some family members of the victims of death-row inmates make impassioned arguments for the death penalty. Theirs are heartbreaking stories. The state owes them not vengeance, but swift and sure justice. The death penalty is neither.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week he would not sign any death warrants that came to his desk, citing many of these reasons. But his moratorium lasts only as long as he is in office. His successor could resume signing death warrants. The governor and Legislature should change the law.
The Times editorial board previously supported the death penalty. In recent years, it has considered changing that position, and Inslee’s announcement renewed that reassessment.
The Everett Herald publishes the editorial, "In Our View/Abolish capital punishment."
The death penalty was abruptly thrown into relief Tuesday when Gov. Jay Inslee announced a moratorium.
"There are too many flaws in the system. And when the ultimate decision is death, there is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system," Inslee said.
There are compelling reasons to abolish the death penalty, so let's abolish it.
"Include public in decisions about capital punishment," is the Tri-City Herald editorial.
While the death penalty is a divisive topic, this is not about the death penalty.
It's about the nerve of our governor to make such a monumental decision without a public debate.
His outlandish decision caught even seasoned prosecutors by surprise. No organized anti-death penalty campaign was being waged. Nobody even knew a debate was on the table.
"Killers’ fates shows injustice of death penalty," is Shawn Vestal's column in the Spokesman-Review.
It is not hard to understand why someone might want Robert Lee Yates Jr. to die.
I want him to live, miserably, as long as possible. I want him to live his sad, awful, lonely final years in prison, with as many of the “complications” of aging as possible.
Is one of these ends more just than the other? Is either of those wishes the remotely right basis for how we deliver justice? Is whatever’s worst for him best for us?
The recent announcement that Gov. Jay Inslee would suspend executions during his term provides a good opportunity to ponder this. Pondering it in the specific context of Yates, Spokane’s family man serial killer, provides a lot of the reasons for doubting whether the death penalty makes sense. Because the way we do it lacks all rhyme or reason, even in the case of someone like Yates, who deserves it if anyone does.
Yates is one of nine death-row inmates whose executions were put on hold by Inslee’s announcement. Death is Yates’ sentence for killing two women in Pierce County. For killing 14 women in Spokane County, he was sentenced to life in prison – more than 400 years.
"Death penalty moratorium a breach of social contract," is Bryan Myrick's NW Daily Marker column.
On Tuesday afternoon in Olympia, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee announced that he will unilaterally impose a moratorium on death penalties during his tenure in office.
On legal grounds, Washington state's constitution and statutes give the governor the power to grant temporary reprieves from capital punishment to death row inmates, often referred to as stays of execution. It does not mean that the next governor could not step into office and remove the reprieves.
On political grounds, Inslee has acted to step around the Legislature, brush aside the courts and substitute his own version of morality for that of jurists who reviewed the facts in each case and came to the conclusion that the just punishment for some horrible crimes was to deprive the guilty person of their life.
The Olympian reports, "Death penalty doubts affirmed; Inslee's death penalty moratorium 'overwhelming relief' for former state justice who resigned to protest capital punish." It's by Brad Shannon.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s declaration of a moratorium on state executions for aggravated murders was a long-awaited moment for former Washington State Supreme Court Justice Robert F. Utter, one of Washington’s longrespected death penalty opponents.
Utter resigned his judicial post in 1995 as a protest against the state court system’s handling of capital crimes. The courts, he said, had failed to find a sentencing disparity in even a single case during his 23 years on the high court’s bench – even though arguments in most of his two-dozen dissents found favor in the federal courts.
Asked for his initial reaction to Inslee’s controversial decision last week, Utter struggled for words for almost a minute as tears welled in his eyes.
“It’s overwhelming relief” Utter said at last. “And I’m feeling that all the past effort had not been wasted. I’ve seen the flaws in the death penalty and how it is administered.’’
There is also:
"Views split on fallout over Inslee’s death penalty moratorium," by Brian M. Rosenthal of the Seattle Times, via the Yakima Herald.
"Washington state's bishops back governor's moratorium on death penalty," is by Catholic News Service, via the Catholic Sentinel.
Earlier coverage of the Washington moratorium begins at the link.