Washington state Gov. Inslee suspends death penalty

2/11/14
 
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from FoxNews,
2/11/14:

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.

“There have been too many doubts raised about capital punishment, there are too many flaws in this system today,” Inslee said at a news conference. “There is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system.”

Inslee said that the use of the death penalty is inconsistent and unequal. The governor’s staff briefed lawmakers about the move on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

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.

“Nobody is getting out of prison, period,” Inslee said.

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.

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