"Washington Gov. Jay Inslee suspends death penalty," is the AP report filed by Rachel La Corte, via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday he was suspending the use of the death penalty in Washington state, announcing a move that he hopes will enable officials to "join a growing national conversation about capital punishment."
The Democrat said he came to the decision after months of review, meetings with family members of victims, prosecutors and law enforcement.
According to a draft statement obtained by The Associated Press, Inslee said that the use of the death penalty is inconsistent and unequal.
"Equal justice under the law is the state's primary responsibility," he said in the written statement. "And in death penalty cases, I'm not convinced equal justice is being served. The use of the death penalty in this state is unequally applied, sometimes dependent on the budget of the county where the crime occurred."
Inslee's moratorium means that if a death penalty case comes to his desk, he will issue a reprieve, which isn't a pardon and doesn't commute the sentences of those condemned to death.
Last year, Maryland abolished the death penalty, the 18th state to do so and the sixth in the last six years.
Nine men await execution at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. The state Supreme Court just last month rejected a petition for release from death row inmate Jonathan Lee Gentry, sentenced for the murder of a 12-year-old girl in 1988. Gentry could be the first execution in the state since September 2010, when Cal Coburn Brown died by lethal injection for the 1991 murder of a Seattle-area woman. A federal stay had recently been lifted in Gentry's case, and a remaining state stay on his execution was expected to be lifted this month.
The Seattle Times reports, "Inslee halts executions, will reprieve death-row inmates," by Jennifer Sullivan.
Gov. Jay Inslee is calling a moratorium on executions while he is governor.
“Equal justice under the law is the state’s primary responsibility,” Inslee said during a news conference this morning. “And in death penalty cases, I’m not convinced equal justice is being served.”
Inslee said there was “too much at stake” in death penalty cases in what he termed an “imperfect system.”
He said that if a death penalty case crosses his desk for action,he will issue a reprieve.
Jonathan Lee Gentry, sentenced for the 1988 murder of 12-year-old Cassie Holden in Kitsap County, is expected to be the next inmate up for execution. Last month, the state Supreme Court rejected a petition for release filed by Gentry’s defense team. Gentry just filed another appeal, based on DNA testing.
A source said Inslee spoke with Holden’s father last night.
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., said Inslee would not be the first governor in the nation to oppose the death penalty.
Earlier coverage from Washington State begins at the link.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber took a similar position in 2012, vowing that the state would conduct no executions under his administration. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced last year that he would stay any execution date for Nathan Dunlap while he was governor.