On February 12th, nearly 60 concerned people from 26 legislative districts came together to voice their opposition to Washington state’s death penalty. From Bellingham and Vancouver to Spokane and Walla Walla, constituents trekked to Olympia to meet with their elected officials. Over the course of four hours, teams attended 67 legislative appointments and had an opportunity to meet with Rep. Reuven Carlyle and Sen. Adam Kline, sponsors of legislation to end the death penalty.
Participants reported that many of their meetings with legislators were productive. The exorbitant cost of maintaining a death penalty system is particularly concerning to many lawmakers, as is the arbitrary nature of its imposition and its negative impact on the families of homicide victims.
Proponents of repeal still have another opportunity to influence legislators this session. On Wednesday, March 6th at 8 am in O’Brien Building, Hearing Room A, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on HB 1504, legislation that would repeal the death penalty in Washington. The public hearing and a press conference following it will be an opportunity to discuss the many reasons to end the death penalty and to continue to build momentum for next year’s legislative session.
As the fight for repeal continues, legislatures across the country are increasingly in favor of abolishing the death penalty. Maryland is moving toward to repeal their death penalty within the next month, with Montana, Kansas, and Colorado legislatures also considering repeal.
For more information about efforts to end the death penalty in Washington, please visit www.sjawa.org.
Safe and Just Alternatives is a campaign that seeks to replace the death penalty with life without parole through legislation. SJA includes people of faith, law enforcement officials, family members of crime victims, and community leaders from across the state who believe that the death penalty is wasteful, unfair, and fails to protect public safety.