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Washington state ends capital punishment

by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 10/11/18, 01:01 pm

The Washington state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the death penalty violates the state’s constitution. In the case of Allen Eugene Gregory, who was convicted of raping, robbing, and killing 43-year-old Geneine Harshfield in 1996, the court found that the “death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.” Gregory’s lawyers submitted a study showing that African-American defendants were 4½ times more likely than white defendents to receive the death penalty in Washington. “Given the manner in which it is imposed, the death penalty also fails to serve any legitimate penological goals,” wrote the justices, who unanimously ordered the conversion of current death row sentences to life in prison.

Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat and a one-time supporter of capital punishment, called the ruling “a hugely important moment in our pursuit for equal and fair application of justice.” He had previously said no executions would take place while he was in office.

The ruling did not reconsider Gregory’s conviction for aggravated first-degree murder.

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Rachel Lynn Aldrich

Rachel is an assistant editor for WORLD Digital. She is a Patrick Henry College and World Journalism Institute graduate. Rachel resides with her husband in Wheaton, Ill.

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