Speed Reads

Capital Punishment

Washington state rules death penalty unconstitutional

The Washington state Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the death penalty violates the state constitution, The Seattle Times reports.

Prisoners on death row have had their sentences converted to lifetime imprisonment. The justices said that they ruled the death penalty unlawful because "it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner."

The ruling was sparked by Allen Eugene Gregory, whose lawyers argued that the death penalty is not applied fairly. Justices agreed, noting that "this particular case provides an opportunity to specifically address racial disproportionality," but in general, its application is also affected by "where the crime took place, or the county of residence, or the available budgetary resources at any given point in time."

Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D), who previously pledged that no executions would take place during his time in office, celebrated the ruling, calling it a "hugely important moment in our pursuit for equal and fair application of justice."