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January 23 2010 | UNITED STATES

USA

Washington state, bill proposes abolishing death penalty

 
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Associated Press

Bill proposes abolishing death penalty

OLYMPIA — Lawmakers are considering a bill that would abolish Washington state’s death penalty, though its own sponsors acknowledge it’s a long shot.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard public testimony on the measure Friday. Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, is sponsoring the bill and told the committee that the death penalty is ineffective, expensive, unequal and inhumane.

No opponents of the bill testified at the hearing.

“There’s a debate that’s not being heard here,” said Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, the chairman of the committee who is a co-sponsor of the bill. Opponents “may have a case to be made, but they need to come make it.”

It seems unlikely that the death penalty elimination would pass the Legislature this year. Kline said he realizes the bill does not have a strong chance to be passed this session, but it’s an issue he will keep addressing.

“I’m not going to give up,” Kline said.

Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, said after Friday’s hearing that he would vote against the bill because he believes it is not what murder victims would want.

“This is not something that the people of my district would want me to be party to,” he said.

Supporters of the bill focused their testimony on the state’s current $2.6 billion budget deficit, and said money spent on death penalty cases far exceeds that which is spent on people sent to prison for life.

“Change is necessary to protect our communities, but we are in time of economic crisis,” said Jeff Ellis, a former president of the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and a Seattle attorney who defends those on death row.

In 2006, the state Supreme Court narrowly rejected a constitutional challenge of the death penalty.

Eight men are on the state’s death row.

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