Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declares moratorium on the death penalty

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced today that he will be declaring a moratorium on the death penalty. Which means that, although the nine prisoners currently on the state’s Death Row will not have their sentences commuted, he will be issuing reprieves on any more death penalty cases that come across his desk. Inslee cites both unequal application of the law and the inability of the system to be flawless as his reasons for doing so.


“Equal justice under the law is the state’s primary responsibility. And in death penalty cases, I’m not convinced equal justice is being served,” Inslee said. “The use of the death penalty in this state is unequally applied, sometimes dependent on the budget of the county where the crime occurred.”


I want to acknowledge that there are many good protections built into Washington state’s death penalty law. But there have been too many doubts raised about capital punishment,” Inslee said. “There are too many flaws in the system. And when the ultimate decision is death there is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system.”

This is great news, and I hope it leads to the state abolishing the death penalty, period. Right now, only 18 states have abolished the practice, and I hope this starts a national conversation on capital punishment that very much needs to happen.

I am not only opposed to capital punishment because the idea of killing people gives me the creeps and I think it’s immoral, or because I’m a bleeding heart. It’s actually more because I’m a cynic and I just do not trust our criminal justice system to be flawless in the future when it hasn’t been in the past. Which is why, as hard as I try, I honestly can’t understand how anyone who has given the subject any kind of actual thought could be for the death penalty. Even if you just happen to enjoy the idea of an eye for an eye… I mean, once you hear of even one single person being wrongfully executed, how can you possibly trust the system that did that?

Shouldn’t that be it for you? Do you need more than one? Because I can give you several if you like. Johnny Frank Garrett was executed in 1992 for the rape and murder of a nun. He was, however, exonerated posthumously, when a similar crime was committed and DNA evidence linked the man who committed that crime to the crime that Garrett was executed for. In 2004, the State of Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham for allegedly setting a fire that killed his entire family. In 2009, arson experts concluded that the fire was accidental–it also is very likely that Governor Rick Perry purposely impeded the investigation by replacing members of the investigative team in hopes of changing their findings.

Even the amount of people wrongfully convicted in general and not sentenced to death should give you pause. How can you trust something like that to a system that has not proven itself to be flawless? Not to mention the fact that it actually costs more to execute someone (because of the–extremely necessary–appeals process) than to keep them in jail for life anyway. I find the whole thing mind-boggling.