Death penalty struck down completely over moral, financial aspects

Death Penalty execution chamber gurney KOMO11.jpg
Death penalty struck down by Washington Supreme Court in unanimous ruling that has more political overtones than constitutional overtones. (photo: KOMO News).{ }

Eight death row inmates in Washington will have their executions struck down in a ruling by the Supreme Court of Washington that the death penalty is un-constitutional.

For more on the ruling, click here.

Pierce County Prosecutor, Mark Lindquist, joined KVI to discuss the Supreme Court's decision, saying the unanimous ruling by the nine justices focused on two main concerns: a moral objection regarding racial disproportionality and a financial disproportionality.

"The court was looking at not just those that landed on death row but rather the process that lead to them landing on death row", said Lindquist. "They (the justices) were clearly more focused on racial bias than they were the financial concerns. "

The financial concerns revolved around smaller Washington counties that don't have the monetary budget for the prosecutor's office being able to pay the costs associated with years and years of appeals.

Of the eight current death row inmates at Walla Walla State Penitentiary where executions have been conducted in the past, three men are black, four are white and hone is mixed heritage, according to Lindquist.

"This decision was not a big surprise to a lot of prosecutors," Lindquist continued, " because the death penalty has become increasingly expensive absurdly lengthy and uncertain." Lindquist pointed to the years-long process of dealing with appeals.

Lindquist noted that the threat of potential death penalty prosecution could have been a factor in the August 2018 guilty plea for Frank Pawul, the killer of Pierce County Sheriff's Deputy Daniel McCarthy, who was murdered in the line of duty in January 2018. He said the guilty plea saves the expense of a long trial.

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