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Washington Governor Stays All Executions, for Now

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Saying “I’m not convinced equal justice is being served,” Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday announced that there would be no executions in the state of Washington while he holds office.

According to The Seattle Times and the state’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, the governor has numerous options in this area. He can commute a death sentence to life in prison, he can pardon an inmate altogether or, as is the case with this announcement, he can issue a reprieve, effectively delaying execution until a later date.

Inslee said he was not asking legislators to repeal the death penalty, nor does he plan to release anyone from prison. There are nine people on death row in the state.

The Seattle Times:

“Equal justice under the law is the state’s primary responsibility,” Inslee said during a news conference Tuesday 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.”

Inslee cited the high cost of trials and appeals, the apparent randomness in which death penalties are pursued and concerns that executions do not deter crime as reasons for his decision. Inslee said he is not asking the state Legislature to abolish the death penalty.

“As governor, it is on my shoulders to come up with a decision for our whole state,” Inslee said. “I have made a decision. It is not an easy one.”

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