• Would eliminate death penalty from state law
  • Capital crime punishment would be life in prison

By Leona Vaughn

WNPA News Service

The death penalty would no longer be a sentencing option in Washington state if lawmakers enact a bill passed by the Senate on Friday, Jan. 31.

Senate Bill 5339 has bipartisan support to eliminate the death penalty — a punishment the Supreme Court ruled as unconstituional in 2018. Gov. Jay Inslee also put a moratorium on it in 2014.

Instead of a death sentence, “all persons convicted of aggravated first degree murder must be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release or parole,” according to the Senate Bill Report.

During Friday’s Senate floor debate,  Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the primary sponsor of the bill, said the death penalty, “is a punishment that simply does not work effectively. It’s not economically efficient, it’s not applied equitably across rural and urban, and other jurisdictions, and there’s a great deal of subjectivity and discretion in a policy that does not fit well.”

The bill, passed by the Senate with a vote of 28 yeas and 18 nays, now moves on to the House for further consideration.