2018! The year abolition was achieved in Washington. When our bill didn't come to the House floor for a vote in the spring, we hoped 2019 would be the year the death penalty would finally be ended here. But on October 11, 2018 the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously decided that the state's death penalty is unconstitutional as applied. This brings the total number of states where abolition has been achieved to 20.
Between the end of the 2018 legislative session and the court's decision, WCADP received a grant to make sure there was capacity to keep the positive momentum going - which made way for hiring a full-time staff person. In the wake of the court's decision the ongoing question has been "what is next?"
Legislative Session 2019: The 2019 legislative session begins on January 14th. With our court's decision that ended the death penalty, any further legislative action would be more of a "clean up" project than anything. We continue to talk with legislators and community leaders and will be ready to support any legislative repeal efforts if they arise. We also anticipate that there might be a "fix it" bill introduced - a bill with the goal of administering Washington's death penalty in a constitutional way. We don't think that there is a "fix," but that doesn't mean that there won't be attempts. Governor Inslee has promised to veto any legislation that would bring the death penalty back.
Beyond the 2019 legislative session: Our work in Washington is changing, but it isn't over. It will be important to continue public education about the death penalty and the broken criminal justice system. This will inoculate future Washingtonians from the idea that the death penalty is anything but what it really is - broken beyond repair.
We anticipate that in the next year we will again be without staff and move from an offense mode to a defense mode. The board has started discussing what the future of the organization will look like in our post-abolition state. It will be wonderful to celebrate the successes of the past year and the vision for moving forward at our annual meeting which will be held in May 2019 (date and location TBD).