Some state lawmakers look to abolish death penalty

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OLYMPIA — For a variety of lawmakers, for a variety of different reasons, the death penalty is wrong.

Now, some state lawmakers are looking to abolish the death penalty in Washington state, saying it is both morally wrong and costs the state more money than life imprisonment. Lawmakers and citizens spoke out against the death penalty during a public hearing on a House Bill in the House Judiciary Committee that would put an end to capital punishment.

Five states have abolished the death penalty in the past five years, including Maryland, which voted to get rid of capital punishment Wednesday.

State Rep. Maureen Walsh, R- Walla Walla, said the death penalty is almost too easy for those who have committed a horrible crime.

“To me, it’s almost too easy to just kill them,” Walsh said. “I’d rather they sit in jail the rest of their lives, think about what they’ve done and live the rest of their lives.

Shirley Mathis’ son was murdered in 1983. She said her son’s murderer was not deterred by the death penalty.


“I was horrified but I told my children that I’d forgiven the killer as I did not want my soul murdered by anger and hatred towards that person,” Mathis said.

Both sides agree the death penalty is expensive for taxpayers. King County’s Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said defense attorneys in death penalty cases can deliberately delay the cases and drag them on for years, costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

“When you consider the millions that are spent to bring them all the way to the penitentiary and place them on death row, that is an extraordinary waste of money even if your goal is to execute people,” former Walla Walla Prison Director Dick Morgan said.

But supporters of the death penalty spoke of justice. Representative Steve O’Ban, R-Pierce County, said families of murdered men and women seek justice.

“What we are speaking about here is the innate desire for men and women to seek justice,” O’Ban said.

State lawmakers admitted the bill was not likely to pass, but continued to push for greater understanding of the death penalty and its cost.

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  • Joe

    Millions to bring the to the pen and put them on death row? Where did those numbers come from? I can make stuff up too but the fact is that it would be impossible for it to cost "millions" to transport one person and lock them up in a different wing. that takes no extra expenses than transporting and housing any of the 2,000 offenders that currently live at WSP.

  • jerry

    Im Sorry but I Must pt my two cents in !!! I was raised the old way . old testiment way. My Dad was murdered in 1990 in porterville ca. they got the guy . the DA ut me on the stand & had me identify his personal prop. then showed me 3 pic;s of my dad in theback of his own truck. there was then a re-trial and this time the guy got 10 years 8 months + life ithout parol . Each day he is alive is like makeing me live it over & over. my Sons never knew my dad or him , them. In a case like this and 2 trials with guilty verdicts .. He should be put down and let god decied . people like him are never gonna change and all its doing is taking up room & cost the people a life time of cost . People need to wake up. some can chane but a lot wont & dont care too.

  • Redney Boles

    As a WA State taxpayer I'm outraged that my tax dollars would be used to feed, clothe and house violent criminals for as long as they live. The appeals process needs to be streamlined to reduce the cost.

  • ferlonda

    I have always been against the death penalty. The main reason, besides the inhumanity of creating yet more murderers out of the folks who do the deed (including we taxpayers, thank you), is that way too many innocent people have been killed this way. Even ONE innocent person put to death is too many for my taste.

  • Lesley Mays

    If the death penalty did not deter him, perhaps it would help to think of his death more as a suicide than a murder? And as to the comment about innocent people being put to death, t is far less likely now with advances in dna science, and I would rather have one unluky innocent die than to allow any child killer breathe another breath or waste another ounce of the earth's limited resources. I think we should EXPAND the use of the death penalty to protect more innocent children instead of worrying about the one innocent that might be wrongly accused!