The Washington legislature is considering legislation to abolish the death penalty.
Capital punishment is rare in Washington. Since the current law was passed in 1981, just five people have been executed, most recently Cal Coburn Brown in 2010. The state has carried out two more executions than Pennsylvania. All three of Pennsylvania's executions were of volunteers--offenders who wanted to be executed.
Brown was executed for the rape and murder of Holly Washa in Seattle. After torturing her for a period of time, he killed her and left he body in the trunk of a car at the Sea-Tac airport. Brown then got on a plane for California and tried to sexual assault and kill another woman. Moments before his execution, Brown complained that he only killed one person and Washington serial killer, the Green River Killer Gary Ridgeway, killed 48 women without being executed.
Although, Washington has carried out executions Senator Mike Carroll believes, “We don’t have a death penalty in the state of Washington," reported the Olympian.
Carrell said capital punishment is little more than a “bargaining chip” for prosecutors to use to force plea deals. But he thinks it’s crucial for prosecutors to have that threat, which was used, for example, to force serial killer Ridgway to reveal the locations of some of his victims’ bodies, reported the Olympian. Carrell's position on the death penalty is not much different that condemned killer Cal Coburn Brown.
Opposing executions are the American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of advocates planning to lobby lawmakers and testify at a public hearing today. Opponents point to death sentences around the country that have been overturned upon finding new evidence, reported the Olympian. This is a bit of a misleading argument. There have been only 17 cases across the country since 1989 where an inmate on death row was released due to DNA testing.
Some states have rethought capital punishment. Last year, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber put a halt to executions.Illinios, New Mexico, New Jersey and New York have all recently abolished the death penalty. New Mexico is considering bringing it back.
In a time of budget cuts, opponents note the cost of capital cases. A 2006 study by the Washington State Bar Association found the death penalty can add more than $700,000 to court costs.
And Brown’s execution cost about $100,000, according to the Department of Corrections – though it did avoid keeping him imprisoned any longer at a cost of more than $42,000 a year.
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