Death Penalty Struck Down in Washington State

In a five-justice majority opinion, and the four other justices concurring, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Death Penalty is unfairly imposed “in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.” Consequently, given what they cited as the flawed nature of State laws permitting death as a punishment for capital crimes, the death penalty could no longer be implemented.

However, this ruling does not necessarily mean the death penalty can never return to Washington State.

From The New York Times:

“In its decision, the Washington Supreme Court said that death as a penalty for crime is not in itself unconstitutional, but that the law as it has been written by the Legislature and applied by judges and juries was too deeply flawed to continue.

“We leave open the possibility that the Legislature may enact a ‘carefully drafted statute,’” the majority wrote. “But it cannot create a system that offends constitutional rights.””

As a consequence of the ruling, the 8 prisoners currently sitting on Death Row will have their sentences commuted to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

You can find an electronic copy of the ruling itself HERE.

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