Governor Jay Inslee today announced a moratorium on capital punishment while he is in office, a move that is infuriating many of his constituents and is particularly aggravating to gun rights activists who note that he is willing to spare killers while his voting record suggests he would make it more difficult for their intended victims to arm themselves.
The Seattle Times, Seattle P-I.com and Spokane Spokesman Review all have stories. Times readers appear split, though more seem to favor his move than oppose it, according to an unscientific poll the newspaper is conducting.
There are nine people currently facing death sentences. They include a man who murdered a 12-year-old girl, another who raped and murdered a 14-year old girl, a third man who robbed, raped and murdered a 65-year-old woman, a fourth man who murdered two Pierce County women, a fifth who murdered a woman, her young sons and her sister in King County, and the list goes on.
While in Congress, Inslee not only voted for Obamacare, he also voted to ban so-called “assault weapons,” which are modern sporting rifles and are used in a fraction of homicides. He supports Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure that was highly criticized during recent hearings in Olympia.
During his time in Congress, Inslee earned an “F” rating from the National Rifle Association for his votes that included a vote against decreasing the waiting period from three days to one, and voting against legislation to protect gun manufacturers from frivolous “junk” lawsuits.
In his announcement, Inslee stated, “There is no credible evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to murder. That’s according to work done by the National Academy of Sciences, among other groups.”
The death penalty is punishment. That's why it is called "capital punishment" and not "capital deterrent." Cynics might ask the governor if Ted Bundy has killed any women lately. Has Charles Rodman Campbell murdered anyone in the past 20 years?
If the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder, why do so many people, including Inslee, think passing another gun law is going to deter criminals from getting guns? If killers ignore the law against murder, they’re certainly going to ignore a requirement that they submit to a background check.
Inslee also stated, “Equal justice under the law is the state’s primary responsibility. And in death penalty cases, I’m not convinced equal justice is being served.”
Of course not, critics will argue, because killers get to live while their victims have no such opportunity. If there is a single reason why the death penalty doesn’t deter people, it would be because it is neither swift nor certain. Endless appeals make a mockery of the death sentence’s gravity.
Speaking of gravity, Inslee observed, “Let me say clearly that this policy decision is not about the nine men currently on death row in Walla Walla. I don’t question their guilt or the gravity of their crimes. They get no mercy from me.”
Inslee is wrong. They just did.