Today's Seattle Times publishes the editorial, "Restart the conversation on the death penalty."
GOV. Jay Inslee’s moratorium on the death penalty in Washington state should start a renewed discussion about the costs, the equity and the morality of capital punishment. And Inslee himself should lead it.
His announcement Tuesday is timely. Jonathan Gentry, one of nine death row inmates at Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, is nearing the end of his appeals after the state Supreme Court rejected an appeal last month.
It is also timely because reconsideration of the death penalty is growing. Since 2007, six states abolished capital punishment. Governors in Oregon and Colorado, states politically aligned with Washington, have recently issued moratoria similar to Inslee’s.
The Yakima Herald editorial is, "Use Inslee’s moratorium to fix law, not stop executions."
Yes, as Gov. Jay Inslee asserted Tuesday, Washington state’s death-penalty law has been applied inconsistently and unequally. One need look no further than the case of Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer who was spared execution for the deaths of 48 women in the 1980s and 1990s. If killing 48 people doesn’t warrant capital punishment, what does?
As Inslee noted, what warrants capital punishment depends on the resources available and the inclination of prosecutors to use them. Inslee was quick to cite the high cost of trials and appeals in Tuesday’s announcement that he was suspending executions for as long as he was governor. We agree with his diagnosis but not his prescription; his moratorium should buy time for fixing the method of dispensing capital justice, not abolish it by gubernatorial fiat.
"Executions Are Suspended by Governor in Washington," is the New York Times report by Ian Lovett.
The move makes Washington the latest in a series of states to step away from capital punishment and makes Mr. Inslee the third Democratic governor in recent years to say something similar. Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon announced in 2011 that he would not permit any executions on his watch, and last year Gov. John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado issued an indefinite reprieve in the only death penalty case during his tenure.
The death penalty is legal in a majority of states, although 18 states have outlawed it, including six that have done so in the last six years. For governors who oppose the death penalty, refusing to order executions may be an easier way to make a point than to try to reverse a law.
"Citing ‘flaws in this system,’ Inslee suspends executions," is the most updated AP report filed by Rachel La Corte. It's via the Bellingham Herald.
"Inslee halts executions; impact on current cases may be minimal," is by Andrew Garber and Jennifer Sullivan of the Seattle Times.
Not everyone is happy about that. One lawmaker called Inslee’s decision “shortsighted.” The father of a murder victim said he was devastated by the governor’s action, and some county prosecutors said they will pursue death sentences regardless.
“You’re not changing the law; you’re postponing it for another day,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg.
Inslee’s announcement caught many people by surprise, considering it is not an issue the governor has highlighted in the past. It was cheered by death-penalty opponents, including one state legislator who said it “sets in motion a legitimate and genuine public conversation.”
Inslee said no one would be executed while he’s in office, but he did not commute the sentences of inmates on death row. That creates the potential for future governors to reinstate the death penalty in those cases.
Inslee also is not proposing legislation to abolish the death penalty this year, although he said he would support such a bill if offered.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer posts, "What does death penalty suspension mean for King County?" It's by Lynsi Burton.
"Inslee announces moratorium on Washington death-row executions," by Jim Camden at the Spokesman-Review.
Seattle Weekly posts, "Gov. Inslee Declares End to Death Penalty Under His Administration," by Kelton Sear.
"Washington state governor declares death penalty moratorium," by Jonathan Kaminsky of Reuters, via the Chicago Tribune.
"Washington state governor declares moratorium on death penalty," by Maria L. La Ganga in the Los Angeles Times.
"Washington governor suspends death penalty," by Reid Wilson at the Washington Post.
"Washington state to suspend death penalty by governor's moratorium," by Kristen Millares Young in the Guardian.
"Washington's Governor Just Suspended the Death Penalty for at Least the Next Three Years," by Josh Voorhees at Slate.
"Attorney General’s statements regarding Gov. Inslee’s death penalty moratorium," in the Bothell/Kenmore Reporter.
"Big murder cases may drag on well after Inslee is gone," by Jennifer Sullivan in the Seattle Times.
Jefferson Public Radio posts, "Washington Governor Won't Sign Death Warrants," by Austin Jenkins.
"Gov. Inslee places moratorium on executions in Washington, in the Peninsula Daily News. It also has, "Peninsula prosecutors question death penalty decision; defense attorney says governor’s action ‘prudent’," by Paul Gottlieb.
The Everett Herald posts, "Q&A: What Inslee’s decision means for the death penalty," and "Victims’ families, lawmakers react to death penalty decision," by Eric Stevick, Rikki King, and Jerry Cornfield.
"Washington governor suspends death penalty," by BBC News.
"WA suspends death penalty," by Meredith Clark of MSNBC.
International Business Times posts, "Washington Governor Jay Inslee Announces Moritorium On Death Penalty," by Eric Brown.
"Washington Governor Suspends Death Penalty, Citing ‘Too Many Flaws In The System’," by Nicole Flatow.
Earlier coverage of the Washington State moratorium on executions begins at the link.