Friday, October 12, 2018

One state at a time

While America is looking like a pretty horrible place at the moment, there's some progess: the Washington state supreme court just abolished the state's death penalty:

The Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down the death penalty there as unconstitutional and “racially biased,” a ruling that makes it the latest in a string of states to abandon capital punishment in recent years.

The order will not stop any scheduled executions because Washington state has already frozen its death penalty under a moratorium by Gov. Jay Inslee (D) in 2014. But the court’s order, which declares that death sentences in the state should be converted to life in prison, is a sweeping rejection of capital punishment at a time when it is being used less nationwide and as states are struggling to obtain the drugs needed for lethal injections.

In their opinion, the justices focused on what they said was the unequal use of the death penalty, describing it as a punishment meted out haphazardly depending on little more than geography or timing.

“The death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner,” the justices wrote. “While this particular case provides an opportunity to specifically address racial disproportionality, the underlying issues that underpin our holding are rooted in the arbitrary manner in which the death penalty is generally administered.”

This is a state decision rooted in state law, so Republicans can't overturn it with their stacked federal supreme court. And while its not the rejection on principle any decent court would have made - the death penalty is cruel, unusual, inhumane, and contrary to international human rights norms - anything which stops the killing is good.