Washington Supreme Court Declares The Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional

12 Octobre, 2018, 11:39 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • The execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary is shown in 2008. The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the death penalty violates its Constitution

Washington state's Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the death penalty, as applied, violates its Constitution.

Washington has had a moratorium on executions since 2014, but the ruling makes it the 20th state to do away with capital punishment by legislative act or court decree.

Gregory argued that the death penalty in Washington is "unequally applied", and the justices agreed with him. Another is that is gives prosecutors leverage over people who have committed horrific crimes. Florida has executed 28, Georgia 26 and Oklahoma 21 in that timeframe.

Convicted June 22, 2001 for the stabbing deaths of his wife Anouchka Baldwin, 37, and stepdaughters Amanda Baldwin, 15, and Salome Holle, 18 in King County on March 6, 1999.

In the past 15 years, seven states - Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico and NY - have abandoned capital punishment through court order or legislative act, and three - Colorado, Oregon and Pennsylvania - have adopted moratoriums.

Inslee said he would sign a bill that abolished the death penalty if the Legislature sent him one, and veto any attempt by lawmakers to reinstate it. Davis is one of eight men who had been on death row at the State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.

State Sen. Reuven Carlyle said the court decision provides "unstoppable" momentum to finally pass legislation eliminating the death penalty from state law. In a 5-4 ruling in 2006, the justices rejected an argument from a death row inmate that he shouldn't be executed because Ridgway hadn't been executed.

Today's ruling relies extensively on a 2014 report by two University of Washington sociologists, the first to comprehensively study the application of the death penalty in Washington.

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"We are confident that the association between race and the death penalty is not attributed to random chance", the justices wrote in a majority opinion. "To the extent that race distinguishes the cases, it is clearly impermissible and unconstitutional". After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1974 put the death penalty on hold nationally, Washington voters passed a state capital punishment law in 1975 by more than 2-to-1. "The certainty of death in prison remains the same".

Gregory, according to the AP, was convicted in 1996 of the rape, robbery, and murder of 43-year-old Geneine Harshfield.

The Washington court analyzed use of the death penalty in the state over the decades and found that it was imposed in an "arbitrary and capricious manner" with racial bias built into the system.

Of the 30 states in which capital punishment is still legal, there have been no executions in 16 of them since 1976. A citizens' initiative will try, but that may not be possible either, he said. "Next session, I will again propose legislation repealing the death penalty, replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole".

"This is terrible", Kathleen O'Bert said after the ruling.

"Those are issues that plague the death penalty everywhere it's administered", he said.

"The death penalty, as administered in our state, fails to serve any legitimate penological goal", the court said.

In its ruling on Thursday, the court did not reconsider any of Gregory's arguments pertaining to guilt, noting that his conviction for aggravated first-degree murder "has already been appealed and affirmed by this court".

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