[JURIST] Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson [official profile] stated during a news conference [press release] on Monday that legislation has been proposed to abolish the death penalty. The state’s stance on capital punishment has recently been under question, though lawmakers have historically been reluctant [AP report] to allow votes on bills ending executions. The conversation shifted dramatically when Governor Jay Inslee [official profile] took office in 2014 and issued a moratorium halting all executions during his term. Inslee and other politicians have stressed that the lengthy death penalty appeals process reflects a broken and unjust system. Ferguson was joined by Inslee and fellow Democrats and Republicans in calling for a change to current legislation. The currently proposed bill would not be retroactive and therefore would not affect the state’s eight death row sentences currently standing. Should the bill succeed, Washington would become the twentieth state to abolish the death penalty.
Capital punishment [JURIST op-ed] remains a controversial issue in the US. Earlier this month the Florida Supreme Court issued an order [JURIST report] informing judges and prosecutors that the state’s death penalty procedure is unconstitutional, marking the second such order in three months. In October the US Supreme Court vacated [JURIST report] the death sentence of an Oklahoma man convicted of killing his girlfriend and her two children in a case where the trial judge permitted family members to recommend the sentence to the jury. In September in Oklahoma, after a botched execution in 2014 and numerous drug mix-ups in 2015, Attorney General Scott Pruitt refused [JURIST report] to set execution dates until new protocols have been approved. In May the Supreme Court upheld a stay [JURIST report] of execution for Alabama inmate Vernon Madison. A few days before that a Miami judge ruled [JURIST report] that Florida’s revamped death penalty law is unconstitutional because it does not require a unanimous agreement among jurors to approve executions. In April Virginia’s General Assembly voted [JURIST report] to keep secret the identities of suppliers of lethal injection drugs.