02/05/2012: "Replace Capital Punishment With Life Without Parole"
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU) and the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty are leading the “Safe and Just Alternatives” (SJA) campaign in support of House bill HB 2468 and Senate bill SB 6283. The objectives of these bills are to eliminate capital punishment (the death penalty) in Washington State in favor of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. If approved, Washington will join 16 other states that have repealed the death penalty, including four states since 2007, and Oregon whose governor has declared a moratorium.
There are compelling reasons to eliminate capital punishment. The most obvious is for each one of us to answer the question whether state-sponsored killing of a human is both moral and serves justice. Even if one concludes yes to this question, we must accept that the criminal justice system is fallible and there is the possibility that an innocent person has been executed in the past, and/or may be executed in the future. To date, more than 130 men and women have been released from prison and/or death row due to a wrongful conviction since capital punishment was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1977. Life without parole is a severe punishment, but, in contrast to execution, does allow for mistakes to be corrected.
There is also convincing evidence that capital punishment is discriminatory and is used disproportionately against the poor, minorities and members of racial communities. Further, the evidence supports the conclusion that capital punishment does not deter crime. The Southern states have approximately 50% of the prisoners awaiting execution, approximately 80% of the executions in the United States, and the highest regional murder rate. In addition, the cost to Washington State of a death penalty case, because a life is at stake, far exceeds a sentence of life without parole.
We urge your readers to contact Representative Jeff Morris at 436A Legislative Building, PO Box 40600, Olympia, Wa. 98504-0600 (360-786-7970) and Senator Kevin Ranker at 215 John A. Cherberg Building, PO Box 40440. Olympia, Wa. 98504-0440 (360-786-7678). Urge them to support HB 2468 and SB 6283, respectively.
San Juan Island Chapter
ACLU of Washington
Friday Harbor, Washington