I’ve written here about the death penalty, and covered it extensively in Books, Crooks & Counselors. Now another state — Washington — has suspended the death penalty, Governor Jay Inslee calling its use inconsistent and unequal in this AP story. It’s still an available sentence — unless and until the legislature changes the statutes — but the governor’s office will issue a reprieve, meaning no executions will be carried out. The nine inmates currently sentenced to death will remain in prison, effectively serving life without possibility of parole. Blog readers know I think that’s a far greater sentence — life-long punishment served day by grueling day.
18 states have abolished the death penalty. Public debate continues.
Here’s a Feb 16, 204 update from the Seattle Times on local reaction.
“life-long punishment served day by grueling day.” Leslie, I’m not certain that each day is that grueling, but I’ve never been an inmate, so I honestly couldn’t give you their impression of how they feel about life, or death.
I’ve thought about the death penalty for probably more than fifty years, off and on, contemplating what it does to any given person, psychologically, being on death row. I’ve never been in favor of the death penalty, it serves no purpose for the prevention of acts that sentenced these people to their fate.
From your article: “means that if a death penalty case comes to his [Governor Jay Inslee’s] desk, he will issue a reprieve, which isn’t a pardon and doesn’t commute the sentences of those condemned to death. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)”
Something further to think about: How would you feel if you were sentenced to death, and this reprieve came in? It’s not a pardon. It’s not a commute. Your life has just been put on hold, waiting for the shoe to drop… How criminal is that? Which governor will take your life in their hands? A jury made the decision, but one person is legally able to overturn it.
My feelings would be, no death penalty. If further evidence is found to commute a sentence, then time will tell, and an inmate will not be thrown into a psychological blender in the meantime. That to me is a cruelty worse than death.
Kathy, thanks for your thoughtful comment. You wrote: “Something further to think about: How would you feel if you were sentenced to death, and this reprieve came in? It’s not a pardon. It’s not a commute. Your life has just been put on hold, waiting for the shoe to drop… ” That’s absolutely true, and while the article does not outline the governor’s plans, I’m sure he is talking with legislators and seeking proposals to eliminate the death penalty, which only the legislature can do. Several state legislatures have considered such proposals in recent years; I don’t know if Washington is one. This is certainly just one step, and not the final one.
Leslie, thanks for the reply. I personally hope the Governor follows through, because the next Governor could have other ideas. I honestly don’t know the steps involved in resolving this. I only addressed what I read, and didn’t want to assume what I didn’t know as fact. When looking at the death penalty, it can turn into a highly emotional subject. Religions can play a big part in it as well. I just put myself in the body of the inmate, and thought about it.
People who “murder” another human being, are not people you want in society, but I also don’t believe we have the right to take another’s life as punishment. If you think about it, death is not a punishment, it’s only an end to a punishment. It’s definitely a fine line we walk, when it comes to defending ourselves, or anyone else, and a death occurs in that process. I do struggle with this.
Anyway, sorry to belabor this issue. One could write a book on this subject! Ha!
Governor Inslee was elected in 2012, and the Wash Legislature meets every year (unlike Montana’s), so I’m hopeful they can take action, one way or another, soon.