State senator lauds Inslee’s decision to place moratorium on executions

Maralyn Chase
State Sen. Maralyn Chase

Calling the practice of capital punishment “barbaric,” 32nd District Sen. Maralyn Chase lauded Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement this week that he is placing a moratorium on death-row executions in Washington State during his term as governor.

“We don’t honor life when the state kills,” Chase said in a statement on Tuesday. “We don’t discourage crime when the state kills. We don’t bring loved ones back or ease the pain of victims when the state kills. We might wish it were so, but it is not. And we accomplish little by pretending differently except to perpetuate a barbaric practice and, worse yet, unwittingly murder men and women who have been wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit.”

“I commend Governor Inslee for recognizing these incontrovertible realities and acting decisively, immediately and unilaterally to end this horrible and failed exercise we call capital punishment,” Chase continued.

Inslee announced that on Tuesday that he is imposing a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty in the state while he is governor and will issue a reprieve for any death penalty sentence that comes across the governor’s desk. The action does not commute the sentences of those currently on death row or issue any pardons for those inmates.

Chase cited both the Old and New Testament, and a United Nations declaration, in praising the governor’s action. “Most of us learn the Golden Rule very early in life. So, too, we learn the Ten Commandments and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And we profess to hold these values dear, only to employ laws that punish those who transgress against us and our moral code with methods that violate that very code,” she said.

“Today we move forward as a state, as a people and as a society. I wish we could have gotten here sooner, but progress is often the result of many small steps over time. This is a large step and I am pleased to see it occur in my time,” Chase concluded.

The 32rd Legislative District includes portions of Lynnwood in addition to parts of Mountlake Terrace, Edmonds, Shoreline, north Seattle and all of Woodway.

The State of Washington currently has nine men sitting on death row, all committed of aggravated first-degree murder, some for the murder or the murder and rape of children.

Jonathon Lee Gentry was originally convicted in June 26, 1991 for fatally bludgeoning with a rock Cassie Holden, 12, in Kitsap County and has been on death row longer than any of the other eight inmates. Byron Eugene Scherf was the latest inmate added to the list of inmates that had been waiting execution; Scherf was convicted on May 9, 2013, for the stabbing murder of Correctional Officer Jayme Biendl on January 29, 2011, while she was on duty at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe.

You can see the complete list of inmates currently sentenced to the death penalty in Washington State here.

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