By Shar Lichty, Organizer
PJALS has worked for over 30 years to end the death penalty in Washington and we are finally nearing the finish line.
During the last legislative session our local group, Inland NW Death Penalty Abolition Group, coordinated with Safe & Just Alternatives to achieve significant gains toward legislative repeal of the death penalty. We gathered a record number of postcards for legislators in the 6th, 4th, & 7th legislative districts, we strengthened Republican support for repeal, and we brought the voices of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation to the table.
All of this left us in the best position for repeal we have seen yet and in a good position to continue the momentum forward during the next legislative session.
This summer we saw some victories in court that further strengthen our work. During the past few years, King County spent over $15 million pursuing the death penalty in three cases-all three ended with a sentence of life without parole. Two of these cases involved defendants in the Carnation Murders—the horrific murder of one defendant’s family on Christmas Eve, including two young children. The other was the Monfort case—he was convicted of killing a police officer.
These three cases represent what most folks would call “the worst of the worst.” Capital cases require the jury to be willing to consider a death sentence and this was the case for the two cases that went to trial—and yet those juries returned with a sentence of life without parole. The prosecutor then made a deal with the third defendant for life without parole.
When juries who are willing to consider a death sentence returning a sentence of life without parole for crimes like these it sends a loud message to prosecutors and legislators.
With the Governor’s moratorium, a prosecutor who was not able to get a death sentence for these horrific crimes despite the millions of dollars spent, and increased bi-partisan support for repeal of the death penalty we are likely at the tipping point in Washington State.
Will Washington be the next state to abolish this barbaric policy? Would you like to help us make that happen?
Here are a couple of ways you can make a difference:
- Join us on Tuesday, October 20th from 6-8pm (location TBA) to listen to Becky O’Neil McBrayer of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation. Her story is a powerful example of the extra pain families experience when the death penalty is an option.
- Join our Inland NW Death Penalty Abolition Group which meets on the 2nd and 4th Wed. of each month at the PJALS office to help strengthen our work during the next legislative session.