OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – The Washington Senate has approved a measure that officially abolishes the death penalty, just months after the state’s Supreme Court unanimously struck down capital punishment as arbitrary and racially biased.
The measure passed by the Senate Friday would make that court ruling permanent by removing capital punishment as a sentencing option for aggravated murder and mandating instead a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole. The bill passed on a 28-19 vote and it now heads to the House for consideration. Gov. Jay Inslee has said he will sign the measure if it makes it to his desk.
Execution was already extremely rare in Washington, and a governor-imposed moratorium has blocked its use since 2014. But the court’s October opinion eliminated it entirely, converting the sentences for the state’s eight death row inmates to life in prison without release.