News

Washington State Supreme Court Rules Death Penalty Unconstitutional

SMS
Washington State Supreme Court Rules Death Penalty Unconstitutional
The ruling converts all the state's death penalty sentences to life in prison sentences.
SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Washington state's Supreme Court just ruled its death penalty unconstitutional.

The ruling stems from an appeal by Allen Gregory. He was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death in 2012. 

As part of his appeal, he and his legal team commissioned a review of the state's death penalty cases. The court cited that study as evidence of the death penalty's "arbitrary and racially biased" use.  

The justices said, "The use of the death penalty is unequally applied — sometimes by where the crime took place, or the county of residence, or the available budgetary resources ... or the race of the defendant."

Executions in Washington have been on hold since 2014 by order of the state's governor, but the court's ruling converts the state's death penalty sentences to life in prison sentences. That applies to eight inmates including Gregory. 

The opinion does leave the door open for the state legislature to craft a new death penalty law.