Washington state Supreme Court declares death penalty unconstitutional, citing racial bias

Washington state's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled the death penalty was unconstitutional because it was inc...

Posted: Oct 12, 2018 7:10 AM
Updated: Oct 12, 2018 7:10 AM

Washington state's Supreme Court on Thursday ruled the death penalty was unconstitutional because it was inconsistently applied, making Washington the 20th state in the US to outlaw capital punishment.

The court said the death penalty's use varied depending on the location of the crime or the race of the accused -- a violation of the state's constitution. Budgetary resources and county of residence were also contributing factors, the ruling said.

Capital punishment

Continents and regions

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal law

Law and legal system

North America

Northwestern United States

Societal issues

Society

The Americas

United States

Washington (State)

Decisions and rulings

Trial and procedure

Discrimination

Racism and racial discrimination

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Politics

State Supreme Court

US state governments

Constitutional law

The state has eight prisoners on death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, and the ruling said all their death sentences would be changed to life in prison.

"The court makes it perfectly clear that capital punishment in our state has been imposed in an 'arbitrary and racially biased manner,' is 'unequally applied' and serves no criminal justice goal," said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who in 2014 imposed a moratorium on the death penalty, saying it was inconsistently applied.

"This is a hugely important moment in our pursuit for equal and fair application of justice," he added.

The state has carried out five executions since the US Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, data from the nonprofit shows. All five defendants were white.

But studies have indicated race does play a role in juries' decision to sentence a defendant to death. A study from the University of Washington found jurors in the state were "more than four times more likely to impose a death sentence if the defendant is black."

The ruling was handed down Thursday morning in the case of Allen Eugene Gregory, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2001 for the murder of of a woman five years prior, according to court documents.

The court said it would not reconsider Gregory's conviction of aggravated first-degree murder.

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union praised the court's decision.

"Washington's Supreme Court showed courage in refusing to allow racism to infect life and death decisions," said Jeff Robinson, the ACLU's deputy legal director and director of the Trone Center for Justice. "Let's hope that courage is contagious."

West Lafayette
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 75°
Kokomo
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 73°
Rensselaer
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 72°
Fowler
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
Williamsport
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 71°
Crawfordsville
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 67°
Frankfort
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Delphi
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 73°
Monticello
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 73°
Logansport
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 50300

Reported Deaths: 2748
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11920692
Lake5432248
Elkhart347058
Allen2902133
St. Joseph205169
Hamilton1665101
Cass16449
Hendricks1446100
Johnson1325118
Porter80238
Tippecanoe7599
Clark68144
Vanderburgh6816
Madison67264
LaPorte60527
Howard59458
Bartholomew59345
Kosciusko5704
Marshall5308
Noble50128
LaGrange4829
Jackson4783
Boone47444
Delaware46952
Hancock46036
Shelby43525
Floyd40444
Morgan33631
Monroe32928
Grant30926
Dubois2976
Henry29717
Montgomery29720
Clinton2893
White26810
Decatur25532
Dearborn25423
Lawrence25225
Vigo2478
Warrick24329
Harrison21722
Greene19332
Miami1922
Jennings17912
Putnam1728
DeKalb1674
Scott1639
Wayne1536
Daviess15017
Perry1459
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1332
Franklin1278
Ripley1277
Wabash1152
Carroll1132
Gibson1132
Fayette1057
Whitley1045
Newton10010
Starke983
Huntington932
Randolph794
Wells791
Jefferson782
Fulton731
Jay680
Washington681
Knox670
Clay665
Pulaski661
Rush613
Posey550
Owen521
Benton510
Spencer501
Adams491
Sullivan471
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Tipton321
Switzerland300
Martin240
Parke230
Ohio220
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events