Washington state’s Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty violates its Constitution because it had been used in an arbitrary and racially discriminatory manner. Judges sitting on the Washington state Supreme Court unanimously backed Thursday’s decision, made during an appeal by death row inmate Allen Eugene Gregory, who raped and murdered a woman in 1996. The appeal had included a study which showed black convicts were 4.5 times more likely to be sentenced to death in Washington state than white inmates.
Washington state’s Supreme Court
“The death penalty is unequally applied — sometimes by where the crime took place, or the county of residence, or the available budgetary resources at any given point in time, or the race of the defendant,” Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst wrote in the lead opinion. Governor Jay Inslee tweeted he had “long been convinced that the death penalty in the state of Washington does not pass” the test of equal justice. In Thursday’s decision, the court did not rule out the possibility that the Legislature could come up with another manner of imposing death sentences. Kristina Roth, of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement it was “tremendous news for all who fought to abolish the death penalty in Washington”.