On Thursday, Washington became the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty after Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, signed Senate Bill 5087 into law.
The bill, which passed the state Legislature earlier this month, also prohibits the usage of chemical castration as a punishment for crimes. During the bill signing Inslee stated that in 2014 he had “initiated a moratorium against the death penalty” and added that this decision was reaffirmed by the state’s Supreme Court four years later.
As he noted, this decision made it “clear” that the “penalty has been applied unequally and in a racially insensitive manner.”
The death penalty was first outlawed in 2018 by the Washington State Supreme Court after they found that it had been applied unequally. They further noted that the location of the crime, as well as the race of the victim and defendant, was often taken into consideration before the death penalty or a life sentence was issued.
Since 1976, 1,568 people have been executed in the United States. 56 percent of defendants were white, and 75 percent of victims were white.
A 2011 Louisiana Law Review study, however, showed that if the victim was white and the suspect black, they were 97 percent more likely to receive the death penalty. The death penalty was previously banned in 22 states and the District of Columbia.
Some Republicans have criticized the Washington bill, and state Rep. Jim Walsh has even stated that the law was “rushed.”
So far this year, there have been 10 executions in the U.S., half of which took place in Texas.