source: USA Today
published: 11 October 2018
On the surface, Thursday’s decision by the state of Washington’s Supreme Court declaring its death penalty unconstitutional might seem to impact only the folks tucked away in the nation’s northwestern corner.
After all, as the 20th state to ban or suspend capital punishment, Washington remains in the minority. And the state’s highest court did not rule the death penalty illegal in and of itself, but rather the way it has been carried out, saying it is “imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.’’
Legal scholars, however, see this as the latest step toward the continued abolition of the punishment, its death knell, so to speak, and believe Washington’s move toward commuting death sentences to life in prison will become more the rule than the exception across the United States.
“It is part of a very clear trend over the last 10 years of states abolishing the death penalty, either through their legislature, like in New Jersey, or through their courts, like in Washington, New York and some of the other states,’’ said Ellen Kreitzberg, a Santa Clara University law professor who has written extensively about capital punishment.