NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

LANDMARK VICTORY: Washington State Senate votes to abolish the death penalty!

This may be the greatest triumph yet of the 2018 legislative session.

In a landmark victory for human rights and dignity, the Washington State Senate made history today by approving legislation that would abolish the death penalty, ending the barbaric practice of executing people as a punishment for crimes.

Senate Bill 6052, prime sponsored by Republican Maureen Walsh and requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, passed with the support of twenty-one Democratic senators and four Republican senators.

In a statement, Governor Jay Inslee praised the Senate for approving SB 6052.

“I would like to thank Sens. Maureen Walsh and Reuven Carlyle, and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who have been great allies in the fight to end the death penalty in Washington state. There has been growing, bipartisan support for ending Washington’s death penalty, and the Senate today voted to do just that. I know this is an emotional issue and people are moved by deeply-held beliefs and values.

“When I put a moratorium on the use of capital punishment in 2014, I hoped it would create space for a discussion about the unequal application of this law, the enormous costs of seeking this punishment and the uncertainty of closure for victims’ families. I hope Washington joins the growing number of states that are choosing to end the death penalty.”

“Today the Washington State Senate took a historic, bipartisan vote, passing Attorney General-request legislation to eliminate the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “Thank you to legislative leaders and advocates who worked so hard to make this historic vote happen. There’s more work to do — Speaker Chopp and the state House now have the opportunity to abolish our broken death penalty.”

“In the past year, prominent Republican officials came forward to support abolishing the death penalty – former Attorney General Rob McKenna and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg,” Ferguson added. “I want to thank them for contributing their perspective to this debate.”

“For me, there are many compelling reason why Washington should join the nineteen other states that have eliminated the death penalty,” said Senator Jamie Pedersen (D-43rd District), the chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee.

Pedersen, who has championed abolition on both sides of the dome, went on to explain that the death penalty is indefensible. “It is unfairly administered; expensive; and unavailable in wide swaths of our state,” he said. “Those convicted of aggravated first-degree murder should die in prison with no hope of parole. The taxpayers do not need to spend millions of dollars to hasten that death.”

“This is a difficult and serious public issue, and a personal decision for each legislator,” said Senator Reuven Carlyle, D-36th District.

“And in this discussion, we offer no personal judgments, no moral criticism and no righteousness against those with whom we disagree.”

“But my personal religious conviction leaves me unable to support a policy that is clearly applied inequitably across our nation and that I believe does not represent our best values of grace. For nine years as a legislator I have led efforts to eliminate the death penalty in favor of life in prison.”

“Today’s vote represents an evolution in thinking about the death penalty and I am grateful that we are making meaningful progress toward that goal.”

The roll call on SB 6052 was as follows:

Roll Call
SB 6052
Death penalty elimination
3rd Reading & Final Passage

Yeas: 26; Nays: 22; Excused: 1

Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Chase, Cleveland, Darneille, Dhingra, Fain, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, McCoy, Miloscia, Mullet, Nelson, Palumbo, Pedersen, Ranker, Rolfes, Saldaña, Walsh, Warnick, Wellman

Voting Nay: Senators Angel, Bailey, Becker, Braun, Brown, Conway, Ericksen, Fortunato, Hobbs, Honeyford, King, O`Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Sheldon, Short, Takko, Van De Wege, Wagoner, Wilson, Zeiger

Excused: Senator Baumgartner

The team at NPI is overjoyed by the passage of Senate Bill 6052.

With today’s vote, our Senate has loudly declared that human rights matter in Washington State. We thank each and every senator who voted for abolition. We are particularly grateful to Republican Senators Brad Hawkins, Joe Fain, Mark Miloscia, Maureen Walsh, and Judy Warnick for their aye votes.

Without them, this bill would not have passed.

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