West Seattle’s legislators sponsoring bills to abolish the death penalty

At the State Capitol, legislators in both houses have introduced bills this week to abolish the death penalty, saying it’s too expensive. All three state legislators for the 34th District (which includes West Seattle) are sponsors of the bills – for House Bill 1504, State Reps. Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle) and Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien), and for Senate Bill 5372, State Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island). The bills – subtitled “Reducing criminal-justice expenses by eliminating the death penalty in favor of life incarceration” – would limit sentencing for aggravated first-degree murder to life in prison with no chance of release. Our state has had 110 executions, most recently Cal Brown in 2010.

26 Replies to "West Seattle's legislators sponsoring bills to abolish the death penalty"

  • Jim Clark January 29, 2013 (5:14 pm)

    So this is billed as “Reducing criminal-justice expenses”? Kind of on the fence on this as there just may be a proper use of the death penalty for people like Ted Bundy, Charles Rodman Campbell ect. Just not sure it is cheaper to jail for the rest of their lives and this saves money?

    • WSB January 29, 2013 (5:19 pm)

      When I find something about the expense comparison, fwiw, I’ll add it. Had to cut the story short as we ran out on breaking news. I think the legal costs of the mandated appeals for death sentences are what stack up the cost. Cal Brown, mentioned in this story, was one of five executed since 1976, per Wikipedia.

  • DW January 29, 2013 (5:27 pm)

    Hmmmm – seems like the state has bigger fish to fry right now. Hope our legislators are not wasting all their time on feel-good liberal causes that will go nowhere, but probably too much to expect.

  • MrB January 29, 2013 (6:01 pm)

    Life in prison is a much tougher sentence than death. Lock them up and throw away the key.

  • Michael Waldo January 29, 2013 (6:08 pm)

    Looking at studies, the poor and minorities are over represented on death row. How many people have been taken off death row by the Innocent Project? A lot. Too many. Yes, mandatory appeals make the death penalty more expensive. If you are a Christian, then you believe anyone can be redeemed. If you kill someone, there is no chance for redemption. Do you believe you should hit a children for hitting a child? I don’t think that is good parenting. Conservatives constantly yell that the government can’t do anything right. Yet they believe the government will get the death penalty right? “An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind”, MLK Jr.

  • Jeff January 29, 2013 (6:40 pm)

    I’m not a Christian, and I think some people are irredeemable. In principle i have no problem with killing some people. Still, we so rarely really know for sure someone is guilty and you can’t exactly take back an execution. That said, my understanding is that on a cost basis alone you can justify ending the death penalty.

  • Sara January 29, 2013 (6:43 pm)

    Great!! I’m very supportive of this news.
    (Agree with you MrB)

  • Smitty January 29, 2013 (7:34 pm)

    Looking at studies, the poor and minorities are over represented on abortions. How many innocent people have been aborted? A lot. Too many.


  • dhg January 29, 2013 (7:59 pm)

    Keep in mind the fact that Ted Bundy ran to Florida, knowing they had the death penalty when we did not. The death penalty does not prevent crime. Better to send the message that taking any life is wrong.

  • villagegreen January 29, 2013 (8:47 pm)

    About time.

  • strike em out kinney January 29, 2013 (10:41 pm)

    I have no problem keeping the death penalty as there are some out there that are a total menace to society without hope for any kind of recovery This must have been conjured up by the bleeding heart libs.

  • CanDo January 30, 2013 (6:30 am)

    The death penalty hasn’t reduced crime at all, so why support it? I like the idea of a lifetime lockup, with few amenities. The cost is less and it gives those few criminals with a shred of a conscience a lifetime to think about their crime. Turns out those “bleeding heart libs” do have cost cutting measures in mind, something that the conservatives are always yelling about.

  • SEA January 30, 2013 (6:51 am)

    Maybe it was conjured up by someone who knows we spend too much money on appeal after appeal of a death penalty sentence, money that could be better spent on education, more police on the streets, or any one of another better uses. I would think all the ‘state government is wasting my money’ people – who are not usually bleeding heart libs – would be leading the charge in favor of this proposal.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident January 30, 2013 (7:22 am)

    Liberals and Democrats, fight for the life of murderous scum bags that have no respect for life, yet opposed ANY restrictions that block or limit ANY type of abortions.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident January 30, 2013 (7:25 am)

    The Death Penalty waas reinstated by a vote of the people. It should ONLY be abolished in the same way, by a vote of the people.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident January 30, 2013 (8:15 am)

    Your assertation that there have been 110 executions in WA is a bit of mis-direction.
    The WHOLE truth is that since 1849 there have been a TOTAL of 110 executions, but since the Death Penalty was reinstated in 1976, a period of 37 years, there have been a total of FIVE, in fact it took 17 YEARS before the first execution to occur after it was reinstated by referendum in 1976.

  • Teri Ensley January 30, 2013 (9:52 am)

    Thank you Eileen, Sharon and Joe.

    @villagegreen–my exact thought too!

    @ Michael Waldo–well said

    I do not believe in the death penalty. Period. It is institutionalized, pre-meditated, cold-blooded murder. We know we have executed innocent people. The death penalty makes all of us murders because we are part of a society that allows the killing of their own citizens. Life sentence. Period.

    For those that support State-sponsored killing,
    another valid reason to eliminate the death penalty is cost. It’s extremely expensive to kill someone. It’s cheaper to keep people alive and in prison for life. No chance of parole. So for those that support the death penalty as a form of punishment, life in prison is no fun; that person’s life is still ‘taken away’ from them. It’s is a very severe form of punishment.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident January 30, 2013 (10:48 am)


    Can you provide the proof that innocent people have been excecuted.

    I have heard this insinuation from the the “anti-death penalty” groups before but none of them have EVER provided substantiated proof from relibla sources to back up this claim.

  • HMC Rich January 30, 2013 (11:22 am)

    My guess is that this is a “humanitarian” and cost cutting tool being brought forth by your … I mean our elected officials. (I didn’t vote for these guys but they are my reps). I am OK with not killing killers . . . as long as these same people quit allowing unborn children from being executed too. I know, Apples and Oranges, but letting Guilty Murderers survive but ending innocent lives just doesn’t make sense to me.

  • stephanie January 30, 2013 (11:38 am)

    I am a bleeding liberal who is for death penalty, the right to choose and anti-guns and proud of it!

  • Ann January 30, 2013 (2:49 pm)

    May I add my thanks to our state reps and senator? For years I have read, and believe, the statistics about the costs of putting someone to death and the cost of maintaining those individuals for a life sentence. The former is much higher than the latter. People want revenge, as if death is revenge for death. A life sentence is not only more punishment for the one convicted of the crime, should new information become available about the innocence of the convicted person, it is reversible. Frankly, if there is any deterrence in punishment, life in prison seems more likely to deter than death, which I don’t believe has been shown to deter at all.

    Our legislators are acting in a reasonable manner to control the costs of our penal system. For this alone, I am grateful.

  • bada-bing January 31, 2013 (1:02 am)

    Ex-Westwood Resident:

    Isn’t it also true that conservatives typically harp about the sanctity of life (every life is sacred) while at the same time reveling in killing “murderous scum” (we should kill people to teach them that killing is wrong)? If the latter is acceptable, should we also kill women who get abortions or the doctors who perform them?
    Also, isn’t fiscal responsibility supposedly a hallmark of conservative values? It is a fact that that it costs the state much less to lock up a murderer for life than to pay for the legal costs of appeals.
    And lastly, there are handful of examples of people being executed and later found to have not been given a fair trial due to the discovery of new evidence and/or DNA testing (which has only been available since 1985). Furthermore, 142 death row inmate have been exonerated (i.e. convicted of murder, served lengthy sentences, then later found innocent and freed) since 1937 for various reasons. Despite our best intentions, human beings simply can’t be right 100% of the time. When a life is on the line, one mistake is one too many. I’d think that would be something the pro-life crowd could get behind, but apparently not.

  • JoAnne January 31, 2013 (7:41 am)

    If life in prison is really worse than the death penalty, I doubt that the death penalty could have been used–as it was–to find the remains of Gary Ridgeway’s missing victims.
    Many people who oppose the death penalty think of themselves as compassionate but really have no idea of the importance of justice to victims.
    They actually care more about their own moral vanity than anything else.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident January 31, 2013 (8:42 am)

    Please provide the links to those individuals that have been exonerated since DNA testing was allowed.

    Now I will grant you that before that time there may have been cases as you describe, but in all my research on defending my stance on the DP I have NEVER found concrete evidence of it from a reputable, unbiased source.

    Do believe a person like “Tookie” Wilson should still be breathing?

    Read about him here, if you are not familar with his case:


    IMO there is no cost that could justify the fact that a person who deliberatly, maliciously and violently takes the life of a another human being remains breathing, thinking and feeling while thier victim lies dead and thier loved ones suffering the loss.

    Now should the DP be applied to ALL murder cases? IMO, no, it should be applied rarely and in the most heinous cases. One type of crime I believe the DP should be applied to is pedophiles, and other sex offenders, esp repeat offenders like the one that just sexually molested an 11 year old at the Enumclaw library yesterday. He was already convicted of rape of a 14 year old and a mentally disabled woman in her 30’s. This type of person should not be walking the earth.

    My use of the abortion issue was only to compare the “reverence of life” that some of the anti-DP people have in wanting to keep murderers alive, but resist ANY measure that may have the slightest chance to limit the access to abortions, even so-called “late-term” abortions. My views on abortion are not the standard “none at all for ANY reason”

  • Lolaleah January 31, 2013 (10:18 am)

    I could get behind the thought of no death penalty if we made out prisons less comfortable. Life in prison is pretty cushy compared to what victims have gone through.

  • bada-bing January 31, 2013 (10:50 am)

    Yep, 50 years in solitary confinement without being able to see the light of day. That’s pretty cushy.

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