Senate moves to kill death penalty

Capital crime punishment would be life in prison

OLYMPIA — The death penalty would no longer be a sentencing option in Washington state if lawmakers enact a bill passed by the Senate on Friday, Jan. 31.

Senate Bill 5339 has bipartisan support to eliminate the death penalty — a punishment the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional in 2018. Gov. Jay Inslee also put a moratorium on it in 2014.

Instead of a death sentence, “all persons convicted of aggravated first-degree murder must be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release or parole,” according to the Senate Bill Report.

During the Senate floor debate, Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the primary sponsor of the bill, said the death penalty “is a punishment that simply does not work effectively. It’s not economically efficient, it’s not applied equitably across rural and urban, and other jurisdictions, and there’s a great deal of subjectivity and discretion in a policy that does not fit well.”

The bill, passed by the Senate with a vote of 28 yeas and 18 nays, now moves on to the House for further consideration.

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