Death Penalty

Execution moratorium by Washington's governor doesn’t change the law, prosecutor says


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced this week that he is suspending executions while he is in office, but that doesn’t mean a long term reprieve for death-row inmates and defendants facing prosecution.

Inslee didn’t commute any death sentences to life in prison, nor did he issue any pardons to inmates awaiting execution, report CNN and the Seattle Times in stories here and here.

“All that really does,” says Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe, “is leave the decision to his successor. He’s just saying, ‘not on my watch.’ ” Roe and other prosecutors interviewed by the Seattle Times said current cases won’t be affected because the death-penalty process is so lengthy.

Inslee said in a statement that he reached his decision because of concerns about the state’s system of capital punishment. “The use of the death penalty in this state is unequally applied, sometimes dependent on the budget of the county where the crime occurred,” he said. He also said life in prison is less expensive than the prosecution and appeals in death cases, and there is no evidence the death penalty deters murder.

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