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Death Penalty

Washington’s death penalty system is broken, expensive, and unfair. With the state facing a staggering $2 billion budget hole, why does Washington continue to spend tax dollars on a death penalty system that doesn't make us safer? The death penalty is costly, unfair, and poses an unacceptable risk of executing the innocent.

The Death Penalty: Costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year - far more than life in prison, does not provide swift and certain justice, does not deter crime, and is applied unequally

Topic Resources

Published: 
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
This article first appeared on the blog of Safe and Just Alternatives, a campaign working to end capital punishment in our state. At the age of 16, my boyfriend Jason Baldwin faced the death penalty for a crime he did not commit.  Twice offered leniency in exchange for testifying against his best friend, Jason – without hesitation – refused both deals.  Had he taken the second deal, he likely would have been released on good behavior within roughly two years.
Published: 
Friday, May 11, 2012
As of May 10, there is one less person on Washington’s death row. The Washington Supreme Court’s overturning of Darold Stenson’s murder conviction provides a vital lesson about the flaws of our system of capital punishment.
Published: 
Friday, July 15, 2011
Having studied political science in college, I have learned much about the process of drafting, introducing, and passing bills. But it is one thing to read about it in textbooks and listen to lectures. It is certainly another to be an active participant in the process. I had exactly that opportunity in my internship with the ACLU of Washington.
Published: 
Monday, February 28, 2011
My intense passion for righting wrongs came before any desire to work within legislation or politics. I became involved with social justice issues during my days as a Catholic schoolgirl, and although the dogma eventually disappeared, the need to help others remained.  In choosing an externship, the ACLU was my first choice, and a natural fit.  As I’ve learned more about its work, I’ve found that my gut reaction to the issues has been spot on. 
Published: 
Friday, November 19, 2010
In September Governor Chris Gregoire, warning that Washington’s finances were “bouncing along the bottom,” by executive order decreed 6.3% across-the-board budget cuts for all state agencies. Just days before the Governor’s announcement the state spent almost $98,000 to execute Cal Brown, who had spent 17 years on death row for a crime committed in 1991. That sum was only the tip of the iceberg, however. As a recentreport by the Washington State Bar Association notes, the specter of a death sentence regularly adds a premium of half a million dollars or moreof legal and judicial costs per case.
Published: 
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Defense attorney Mark Larrañaga visits Bellingham to speak about his experience as an attorney for defendants facing the death penalty. How many people does an execution affect? Prior to hearing Mark Larrañaga’s insights into the vast reaches of the death penalty, I naturally assumed that the defendant, his or her family, the victim(s), and the victim’s family were the principle people affected by the death penalty. I never considered how deeply jurors, attorneys, and their families can be affected. Years after a trial had come to an end, some jurors’ family members are brought to tears just talking about it. These persons are often so affected by the lengthy, emotionally straining process of a death penalty trial that they too often turn to substance abuse to help them cope. “He’s never been the same. He started hitting the bottle pretty hard when the trial ended,” one woman said of her husband’s experience as a juror. Mr. Larrañaga has become so keenly aware of how traumatizing a death penalty trial can be that in many of his cases he has requested that counselors be available to all involved parties after the trial is concluded. Read more
Published: 
Friday, July 2, 2010
Utah’s June 18 execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner captured attention from around the world. Why is this newsworthy? The U.S. has taken the lives of over 1,000 individuals since 1976. Since that year, Gardner is only the third person in the U.S. executed by firing squad.
News Release, Published: 
Friday, May 7, 2010
Police chiefs, criminologists, and the American public also prefer life without the possibility of parole to a sentence of death.
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The ACLU has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the appeal of Cal Coburn Brown, who was sentenced to death in Washington state in 1993. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned the death sentence in 2005, ruling that a potential juror had been incorrectly kept from the jury that found Brown guilty and imposed the death penalty.

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