By Shar Lichty
The death penalty is the issue that stirs up the most emotional responses for me. It is also the issue I have actively worked on the longest. So I am very excited about current statewide efforts to abolish the death penalty in Washington State. This year brings a new and robust campaign called Safe and Just Alternatives. Along with it comes an experienced campaign manager staffed out of the ACLU-WA office. PJALS has recently endorsed the campaign. For more information on the campaign, visit www.sjawa.org.
While this year’s goal remains bringing the bill to a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, there is also a longer-term goal: to achieve abolition in 2013. Bills for the House and Senate have been introduced: they are HB 2468 and SB 6823. The focus throughout the next year is education of the public and our legislators while building capacity to move forward during next year’s legislative session. This long-term focus on education and organizing gives me hope.
In addition to endorsing the campaign, PJALS is working locally and statewide. Our Inland Northwest Death Penalty Abolition Group (INDPAG) was restarted this fall and now meets on the first and third Wednesday each month at 5:30pm. We have divided into three working groups in the areas of education/outreach, events and legislation with the second meeting each month dedicated to working towards the group’s goals. Some of us participate in regular conference calls with other organizers across the state to discuss the campaign.
A small delegation will be traveling to Olympia for a lobby day and to sit-in on the Senate Judiciary Hearing on Jan. 25th and represent Eastern Washington on this important issue. We are working to put together a film and poetry series this spring and increase local participation in the campaign. For more information on INDPAG, PJALS position on the death penalty, our facebook group and a link to the campaign’s action alert, please visit http://pjals.org/issues/death-penalty/