Archive for Criminal Justice

Rep. Klippert: Repeal legal marijuana, recognize fetus in murder cases

By | January 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

Two controversial measures could appear before lawmakers this session – a bill to repeal recreational marijuana and another that would recognize a fetus as a victim if a crime is committed against a pregnant mother.

Rep. Brad Klippert

Rep. Brad Klippert plans to introduce legislation to repeal Initiative 502, the voter-approved measure legalizing marijuana, he told TVW. “Possession and consumption of marijuana by our children is skyrocketing. The black market for marijuana is skyrocketing,” he said Wednesday. “It’s not being a positive thing for our state – it’s actually having some negative effects.

The Kennewick Republican will need a majority of lawmakers to agree in order to repeal the measure. Two-thirds of lawmakers must vote repeal, suspend or amend an initiative within two years of passage. Since I-502 was approved in 2012, it doesn’t have to meet that standard and could be repealed by a simple majority, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Other lawmakers have introduced reforms to the state’s legal marijuana system. The so-called “Comprehensive Marijuana Reform Act,” introduced Wednesday, would merge I-502 with the state’s medical marijuana system, which has been largely unregulated since the initiative was implemented.

Another bill Klippert plans to introduce would would make it a crime to kill a fetus in some circumstances. If a suspect kills an unborn child during a crime against the pregnant mother, he or she could be charged with first-degree murder.

Klippert, a Benton County Sheriff’s officer, says the bill comes after he responded to a triple murder with a pregnant victim. “Now, the way the law is written, we cannot charge that suspect with aggravated murder of that child,” he said.

Rep. Roger Goodman, the Kirkland Democrat who chairs the House Public Safety Committee, said the bill will stir debate. “The question of viability or personhood of a child not yet born is probably the most controversial issue that we deal with in the legislature,” Goodman said. “That issue will certainly come up when we hear this proposal.”

Klippert and Goodman will appear on TVW’s The Impact with Anita Kissee at 7 and 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Bill would reduce drug possession charge from felony to misdemeanor

By | January 16, 2015 | 0 Comments

Drug possession would no longer be a felony in Washington state, under a bill being considered in the state House.

Possessing one ounce or less of a controlled substance would become simple misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for drug possession now, as a Class C felony, is five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. House Bill 1024 would reduce penalties to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Rep. Sherry Appleton, Poulsbo Democrat and prime sponsor of the bill, told a House committee Friday that reducing the charge would save the state millions and allow offenders to move on without the barrier of a felony. “We’re still going to hold people accountable,” she said.

A felony makes it difficult for offenders to find jobs, housing and more, Mary Clare Kersten of Sensible Washington told the committee. “Addiction is a illness and it should rightfully be combated with treatment instead of punishment,” she said. “A felony is a label we can’t shed,” she said.

Some worry the bill would encourage addiction. James McMahan Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs said the measure sends the wrong message. “It’s probably time we send the message ‘it’s OK to be sober,’ ” he said.

Appleton says reducing the charge would save the state in prison costs that could be used to fund education and other priorities. Candice Bock says some of that cost would land on cities — about $4.5 million next year.

Voters in California approved a similar measure last year. Lawmakers here tried to pass a similar bill last session, but it did not make it out of the same House committee.

Categories: Courts, Criminal Justice

DSHS seeks legislation for mental health competency services

By | January 7, 2015 | 0 Comments

The state Department of Social and Health Services will seek legislation this session that would allow it to provide some competency rehabilitation services outside of state psychiatric hospitals. The move comes after a federal judge ruled in December that wait times for criminal defendants in jail to be evaluated for competency to stand trial were too long and unconstitutional.

Jane Beyer, Assistant Secretary of Behavior Health and Service Integration at DSHS, told a joint legislative committee on Wednesday that the department acknowledged that some of the wait times were “inappropriate.”

“We do not agree with people waiting in jail as long as they are waiting in jail, and that’s why the governor in his budget had the funding request for additional evaluators and additional forensic beds at state hospitals,” she said.

Inslee’s proposed budget includes $8.8 million to open a new 30-bed forensic ward at Western State Hospital, five beds at Eastern State Hospital and additional staff to address court-ordered competency restoration services.

Currently, restoration services for people found by the court to be incompetent to stand trial are only offered at state psychiatric hospitals. Beyer said DSHS will ask for legislation that would authorize it to offer some of those services in other facilities, possibly modeled after crisis diversion centers in Fife and the Tri-Cities.

“There are individuals who have been charged with a misdemeanor or other low-level, non-violent felony that are willing to take medication,” she said. “I think we can appropriately balance public safety and clinical needs so we can provide competency restoration in places other than state hospitals.”

Otherwise, Beyer said the state will be “confronted with another ward and another ward at the state hospitals” at a cost of tens of millions of dollars in the future.

A trial has been scheduled for March 16 in the lawsuit against DSHS, which was brought by disability rights groups and ACLU of Washington.

Inside Olympia: Paroles & Pardons

By | December 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

Deciding whether to parole or pardon prisoners is a difficult, politically dicey task. Austin Jenkins interviews Gov. Jay Inslee’s General Counsel Nick Brown, Clemency and Pardons Board Chair Jennifer Rancourt, and Indeterminate Sentence Review Board Chair Lynne DeLano.

Watch here:

Backpage sex trafficking case argued before state Supreme Court

By | October 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Protestors rally against Backpage in front of the Supreme Court

A lawyer for argued before the Washington Supreme Court on Tuesday that the website should be granted “complete immunity” from prosecution because it did not write the online ads that resulted in the sex trafficking of three underage girls.

Backpage maintains that the website is immune under the federal Communications Decency Act, which says that an Internet service provider is not liable for the content posted by users.

“It’s clear that Backpage did not create or develop the ads that allegedly harmed the plaintiffs,” Backpage attorney Jim Grant told the court.

But a lawyer for the three victims says that Backpage did play a role in developing the ads.

Erik Bauer told justices that Backpage should be considered an “information content provider” because of its posting guidelines, which he said help traffickers write sex ads that won’t get flagged by law enforcement.

The guidelines include suggestions such as “don’t advertise in time increments of 15 minutes,” and offer a way for pimps to pay for the ads with untraceable prepaid credit cards, Bauer said.

“These so-called posting rules that are on the Backpage website are actually instructions to pimps on how to post an ad that works,” Bauer said.

Grant countered that claim, saying virtually every website has posting guidelines. “Backpage’s rules prohibit illegal content and prohibit improper content, just as Craigslist rules do, just as Facebook rules do, just as Microsoft Windows rules do,” Grant said.

The three victims in the case were between the ages of 13 and 15 when they were trafficked.

The mother of one of the girls told TVW after the hearing that her daughter ran away from home at the age of 15, took a bus to Seattle and within 36 hours was trafficked for sex by a pimp who used Backpage to sell her multiple times a day.

“She’s doing much better today,” her mother said. The pimp was arrested, and she said the next step was to go after the facilitator — Backpage. “I felt it was time Section 230 (of the Communications Decency Act) was looked at,” she said.

The justices will release a decision at a later date. TVW taped the hearing — watch it below:

Drone bill vetoed by Gov. Inslee

By | April 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

Citing privacy concerns, Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed a drone bill Friday and announced he is temporarily banning all state agencies from purchasing or using drones for the next 15 months except during emergencies or natural disasters.

“I’m very concerned about the effects of this new technology on our citizens’ right to privacy,” Inslee said before vetoing a bill that would have put restrictions on how public agencies are allowed to use drones.

House Bill 2789 would have required public agencies such as police departments to obtain a warrant before using a drone, except during emergencies when there is immediate danger of death or injury. It also would have allowed drones to be used for training, testing, wildlife and environmental monitoring.

Calling it “one of the most complex bills” his office has analyzed, Inslee said the measure contained too many ambiguities. In particular, he said the bill has conflicting provisions on the “disclosure and destruction” of personal information collected by the drones.

Inslee said his office will create a task force to study the issue and come up with a new drone bill for the 2015 legislative session. He said he is calling for legislation that provides a “clear and unambiguous” framework for government use of drones.

One of the drone bill’s sponsors, Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, released a statement saying he was disappointed the governor vetoed a “well-worked, forward-looking” bill that was intended to “protect citizens from being spied on by their government without legal approval.”

“The measure passed both the House and the Senate with strong bipartisan support. It specifically permitted the use of drones for forest-fire surveillance, wildlife management, military training, and emergencies proclaimed by the governor, and it allowed development of the technology to continue,” Morris said. “It’s unfortunate that it’s so difficult to override a veto once regular session has ended. But I will continue working to ensure that we control technology – technology doesn’t control us.”

Governor signs dozens of bills into law

By | March 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee signed nearly 50 bills into law during a bill signing ceremony on Thursday, including measures that address tanning beds, alcohol theft, state parks and drunk driving.

Gov. Inslee prepares to sign bills

Among the bills signed by the governor:

House Bill 2155: Gives the Liquor Control Board more authority to take action against liquor stores that have an “unacceptable”  rate of thefts, defined as two or more thefts over six months that result in a minor obtaining alcohol.

House Bill 2163: Makes it illegal for stores to sell a certain type of cough syrup to anyone under the age of 18. Young people are drinking cough syrups that contain dextromethorphan to get high, which Inslee described as a “growing problem.”

Senate Bill 6034: Allows certain types of advertising in state parks to help raise funds. It also allows parks to form partnerships with businesses, tribes, public agencies and other organizations. Parks cannot be renamed after a company.

Senate Bill 6065: Bans teenagers under the age of 18 from using tanning beds, unless UV radiation treatment has been prescribed by a doctor. Tanning salons will be charged $250 for each violation. Inslee acknowledged the parents of a woman who died from melanoma at the bill signing, saying the skin cancer can affect people of all ages. He said the new law will help young people “shield themselves from this increasing risk.”

Senate Bill 6413: Adds five new crimes to the list of offenses that can be counted as prior offenses when a person is charged with a DUI, including operating a boat, aircraft, snowmobile or commercial vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It also includes driving an off-road vehicle in a way that’s “likely to endanger” another person’s property. Inslee said the bill will help “reduce the scourge” of repeat drunk drivers. Lawmakers are continuing to work on legislation to provide full-time monitoring of repeat DUI offenders, he said.

Senate Bill 6424: Creates a state seal of biliteracy for the high school diplomas of students who are proficient in English and one or more other languages, including sign language and Native American languages. “This is a great idea,” Inslee said. “We love having citizens of the world coming out of our schools.”

TVW taped the bill signing and it will be archived at this link.

Inslee also spoke briefly with reporters following the bill signing ceremony about the Oso mudslide. “We do know this could end up being the largest mass loss of Washingtonians,” he said.

The governor said with a full-scale rescue effort underway, “we’re looking for miracles to occur.”

Watch the press conference at this link.

Legislative Year in Review

By | March 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

On this special one-hour edition of “Legislative Year in Review,” we recap the highlights from the 2014 session — from opening day to Sine Die. The show includes debate over issues such as the Dream Act, minimum wage, gun control, abortion insurance bill, death penalty, mental health, teacher evaluations, taxing e-cigarettes and the supplemental budget. Plus, a quick wrap-up of several of the bills that passed this year. Watch the show below:

2014 Roundup: What bills passed, what didn’t pass during session

By | March 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Washington State Legislature adjourned shortly before midnight on Thursday, the final day of the regular 2014 session. It’s the first time since 2009 that lawmakers finished their work without going into an overtime special session.

Here’s an overview of what lawmakers accomplished — and didn’t accomplish — during the session.


Supplemental budget: Both chambers agreed on a supplemental operating budget that spends about $155 million, including $58 for K-12 books and supplies. It also adds additional money to the mental health system, early learning and prisons. It does not include any new taxes or tax breaks, nor does it include teacher pay raises.

Dream Act/Real Hope Act: The Dream Act allows undocumented immigrants to apply for state need grants to help pay for college. The House passed its version of the Dream Act on opening day. The Senate renamed it the Real Hope Act and added $5 million to the state need grant. It was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in February.

Homeless fees: As part of a last-minute deal, lawmakers agreed to extend until 2019 a $40 document recording fee that people pay during real estate transaction, such as buying or refinancing a house. The fee supports homeless shelters, affordable housing and other services and was scheduled to sunset unless the Legislature took action.

24 credit diploma: Starting with the class of 2019, high school students will have to earn 24 credits for a diploma. The current minimum is 20 credits, although some school districts require more than the minimum. The bill will also provide more opportunities for students to take career and technical classes that meet graduation requirements.

Tanning beds ban: Teenagers under the age of 18 would no longer be allowed to use tanning beds in Washington. Senate Bill 6065 bans minors from using tanning beds, unless they have a written prescription for UV radiation treatment from a doctor. Tanning salons would be fined $250 for violations.

Domestic violence: Washington residents under domestic violence restraining orders will soon be barred from owning guns. The bill says that someone who is under a protection, no-contact, or restraining order related to domestic violence must surrender his or her guns to law enforcement.

Drones: The Legislature approved a bill that puts limits government agencies that use drones, or remote-controlled monitoring devices, for surveillance. An agency may only use a drone after getting a warrant or under several exceptions, such as a fire or other emergency.

Religious holidays: State employees will be allowed to take two unpaid days off a year for religious reasons, and public school children will be excused for two days under a bill approved by the Legislature.

Military in-state tuition: Veterans and active duty military members will soon qualify for in-state tuition at Washington colleges and universities without having to first establish residency. Senate Bill 5318 waives the one-year waiting period for veterans, military members and their families.

Short-barreled rifles: Washington gun owners will soon be allowed to own a short-barreled rifle under a bill approved by the Legislature. It is currently a felony to own a gun with a rifle with a barrel shorter than 16 inches, or to have a modified gun that is shorter than 26 inches overall. (more…)

Limits on government drones advances through Senate

By | March 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

The  Senate advanced a house bill that limits government agencies in their use of drones, remote-controlled monitoring devices, for surveillance, under a bill passed Friday evening.

Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane, said lawmakers weighed a variety of needs.

“We’ve been trying to protect as much as we can the rights of privacy of citizens of our state, and at the same time balance the legitimate needs of law enforcement,” he said.

Sen. Adam Kline, D- Seattle, also spoke in support of the bill.

“It balances the expectations of law enforcement and the rest of us,” Kline said. “This is where law enforcement meets the civil liberties of the citizens of the state of Washington.”

Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, introduced and withdrew several amendments, including one that compels Santa Claus to follow Washington law on drones.

“This is how ridiculous I think this piece of legislation is,” Honeyford said, as he withdrew the Santa Claus amendment.

He said if something can be photographed via plane, it makes no sense to ban drones from taking the same photo.

According to HB 2789 an agency may only use a drone after getting a warrant or under several exceptions:

  • For a non-criminal emergency, such as a fire, with immediate danger of death or serious bodily injury.
  • For training or testing if no personal information is collected.
  • For emergency response during a  governor-declared state of emergency.
  • Environmental or wildlife monitoring or  assessment, when collection of personal data is unlikely.

The bill passed 46 to 1, with Honeyford as the sole vote no.

Categories: Criminal Justice, WA Senate

Domestic violence gun restriction heads to governor’s desk

By | March 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

Washington residents under domestic violence restraining orders would be barred from having guns, under a bill that passed out of the Legislature and is heading to Gov. Jay Inslee‘s desk.

HB 1840 passed unanimously out of the Senate Thursday night, after senators said that concerns about infringing on Constitutional rights had been addressed.

“There’s due process in this,” said Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane. “There has to be a notice, there has to be a hearing and the judge would have to find that the individual whose guns could be removed was a credible threat.”

The bill says that someone who is under a protection, no-contact, or restraining order related to domestic violence must surrender his or her guns to law enforcement. The bill says the person would have to surrender a concealed pistol license while under the order. The bill also prohibits someone under such an order from obtaining a firearm or a concealed pistol license.

Padden said the bill would also increase the safety of police officers responding to domestic violence protection order violations, and that the National Rifle Association had no objection to the bill.

Sen. Marko Liias, D-Mukilteo, said the bill would also help friends and family of victims of domestic violence, such as one of his constituents whose cared for her mother as the mother recovered from being injured by a domestic violence attack.

Ÿ”She was afraid every day that the partner would show up and perpetrate violence against her family or her mother,” Liias said.

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Death penalty hearing, supplemental budget proposals

By | February 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Wednesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” several family members of murder victims testified at a Senate committee on a bill that would require death penalty cases to go through the state Clemency and Pardons Board process before the governor could issue a reprieve. It was brought in response to Gov. Jay Inslee‘s moratorium on executions while he’s governor.

We also have details on the supplemental budget proposal from House Democrats, as well as public testimony on the Senate’s supplemental budget proposal. Watch the show below:

Categories: Budget, Criminal Justice

House committee passes bill that targets shaved keys

By | February 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

One of thieves’ favorite tools, shaved keys, is getting scrutiny from Washington lawmakers.

The House Public Safety Committee voted to pass Senate Bill 6010 out of committee on Wednesday. The bill would ban the possession of shaved keys, which are altered to fit locks apart from their intended one.

Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirklandadded an amendment to the bill that requires police to find intent to commit a crime before convicting someone who makes, mends or possesses up to 10 shaved keys.

Supporters of the original bill, including Rep. Brad Klippert, R- Kennewick, argued the only purpose of the key is for criminal activity, making it worthy of a misdemeanor.

Mark Marsh with the Edmonds Police Department agreed.

“We come into contact almost daily with people who have shaved keys. Never do they have a legitimate reason to have them. The only reason to have shaved keys is to steal a car, pure and simple,” said Marsh.

The majority of committee members disapproved of original bill that would make having a key the sole grounds for an arrest, but support the amended version that makes intent a part of the arrest process.

Rep. Jeff Holy, R-Cheney, called the original legislation “a liability bill.” Holy said it has potential to not only make wrongful convictions, but it would also give police too much discretion.

In 2012, more than 3,500 motor vehicle thefts were reported in Seattle and there were about 1,900 motor vehicle thefts in Tacoma, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Proposal for K-12 funding, prison college courses and crowdfunding

By | February 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Tuesday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we cover a proposal by Senate Democrats to close tax breaks to raise money for education. We also have details on a bill to allow some prison inmates to take state-funded college courses, and another measure that would let Washington entrepreneurs raise money through crowdsourcing.

Watch the show below:

Anti-harassment bill would make it harder for prisoners to sue their victims

By | February 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Criminals may soon face additional hurdles if they attempt to sue their victims from behind bars.

Senate Bill 2102 would require prisoners convicted of serious violent offenses to get court approval before filing lawsuits against their victim or the victim’s family. If the prisoner files a lawsuit without a judge’s approval, he or she would lose a chance of an early release.

The prime sponsor, Rep. David Sawyer, D-Tacoma, is pushing the bill after his friend was sued by the man who killed her husband.

In 1995, Paula Henry’s husband was murdered by his former business partner, Lawrence Shandola. Six years later, Shandola was sentenced to more than three decades in prison. But locking him up didn’t stop him from harassing Henry.

During tearful testimony at a previous House committee, Henry shared her experience of being stalked and sued by the criminal for about five years.

“All of the sudden a stranger knocks on the door and I thought it might be the cable guy or something. He throws all of these papers at me and the papers said you’re being sued by the man who blew my husband’s head off,” she said.

Now, she wants to make sure other victims do not suffer. Sawyer said Henry did not testify at Friday’s Senate committee because it was too upsetting to revisit the experience.

However, bill critics such as the American Civil Liberties Union said a system already exists to filter out frivolous lawsuits.

Greg Link with the Washington Defenders Association said at Friday’s Senate committee hearing that Henry’s situation is rare, and it does not justify the bill.

He added that it punishes criminals for actions outside of their original crime and prison behavior, straying from the structure of the Sentencing Reform Act. The act seeks to ensure that the punishment for a criminal offense is proportionate to the seriousness of the offense and the criminal’s history.

“It creates more holes than it fills,” said Link.

The bill unanimously passed out of the House. The Senate Law and Justice Committee took no action on the bill Friday.

Senate debates charging defendants for public defense

By | February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Criminal defendants with assets would have to pay a portion of their public defender costs, under a bill passed by the Senate.

Currently, those costs are covered by cities and counties who pay for attorneys for those who can’t afford it, and bill supporters say that is becoming a burden on cities and counties. SB 5020 would allow a defendant’s assets to be taken into consideration when determining whether he or she qualifies for a public defender.

Sen. Adam Kline (D-Seattle)

Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch)

Sen. Adam Kline (D-Seattle) argued that asking defendants to include their assets as part of the determination would violate the sixth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to being represented by an attorney in a criminal court matter.

“When we include in the categorization of people people who can afford to pay for their lawyer folks that are earning at the bottom — 125 percent of the federal poverty level — then we have a problem. We are burdening the exercise of a very important constitutional right,” he said.

However, Bill sponsor Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) argued the bill would enable the courts to increase the number of people who get public defenders.

“By requiring individuals to partially or fully pay for their defense when they can afford it we are providing more money for people to have a defense that do not afford it,” he said. 

The bill passed 27-20, and will go to the House for consideration.

Categories: Courts, Criminal Justice

House passes involuntary mental health treatment bill

By | February 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Doug and Nancy Reuter, whose son Joel died in a shootout with Seattle police, were on hand Friday to see the House of Representatives pass a bill that would allow the families of those with mental illness seek help for their loved ones through the courts.

HB 2725 would allow immediate families to ask the courts to commit or treat a person with mental illness involuntarily.

Joel Reuter

The family and friends of Joel Reuter, who had bipolar disorder, tried to get him help when his behavior became erratic, but were told repeatedly by authorities that his behavior never rose to the level of involuntary commitment.

“Joel needed to be involuntarily committed because he didn’t know that he was slipping into psychosis. But his family members knew. His parents knew, his friends knew,” said Rep. Jay Rodne (R-North Bend), on the House floor.

“We can not not afford to put this bill into law because it will save lives and early intervention will spare the tragedy that Joel and his family underwent,” Rodne said.

“This bill gives families one more option, one that I believe they need,” said bill sponsor Rep. Eileen Cody (D-West Seattle). “I am hoping this will give families one more option and prevent tragedies.”

Under the current involuntary treatment law, a designated mental health professional must sign off to commit someone involuntarily. The patient must be at grave risk to oneself or others, either through threatening to harm someone or oneself, or through becoming unable to take care of one’s basic needs.

House bill 2725 would allow immediate family members to petition the courts if the patient is denied involuntary commitment by the mental health professional. The courts can review denials and could  reverse the decision, taking the family’s testimony into account.

Friends and family of people with mental illnesses testified to being unable to help with their loved ones’ erratic and dangerous behaviors.

However, a House committee also received testimony against the bill earlier this month, that the bill would burden the already overcrowded system and wouldn’t help with capacity issues.

Republicans react to Governor’s decision to suspend death penalty

By | February 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

Republican lawmakers Wednesday criticized Gov. Jay Inslee for suspending the death penalty, saying it is a “misuse of power.”

Inslee announced he is imposing a moratorium on capital punishment while he’s in office, citing a flawed and expensive system.

Rep. Jay Rodne, Sen. Steve O'ban and Sen. Kirk Pearson (left to right)

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, Rep. Jay Rodne, R-North Bend, and Sen. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe called a press conference on Wednesday to respond to the governor’s decision.

The Republicans said the governor went around lawmakers by ignoring previous bills to end the death penalty that have stalled in the Legislature.

Rodne also took issue with the governor’s reasoning that suspending death penalties will save the state money. Since the moratorium only lasts while the governor is in office, Rodne said prosecutors will still pursue death penalty cases and the costly appeals process will not stop.

Rodne said issuing executive action over legislation is “cruel” to the inmates on death row because a future governor could reverse the policy, which would draw out the process.

Focusing on the families of victims impacted by the moratorium, O’ban said the decision robs loved ones of deserved justice.

He pointed out three offenders from Pierce County, Cecil Emile DavisAllen Eugene Gregory and Robert Lee Yates Jr., who will not face execution, as of yesterday. Women were murdered in all three of the cases.

“Part of capital punishment is to bring closure to families. I really hurt for them,” added Pearson.

Gov. Jay Inslee imposes moratorium on the death penalty

By | February 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday he is imposing a moratorium on the death penalty in Washington state while he is governor, saying there are “too many doubts” about capital punishment.

“There are too many flaws in the system today,” he said. “When the ultimate decision is death, there is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system.”

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks to reporters Tuesday

Inslee said he came to the decision after months of studying the issue and touring the death chamber at Walla Walla State Penitentiary, where nine men are currently on death row. Inmates in the state are executed by lethal injection or hanging.

Inslee said he will issue a reprieve if a death warrant comes across his desk while he is governor. It would not commute the sentence or pardon the offender.

“Those on death row will remain in prison for the rest of their lives. No one is getting out of prison, period,” he said.

Inslee acknowledged that the reprieve could be reversed by future governors. He said he chose a “relatively restrained use of executive power” so that the state could continue the conversation about the death penalty.

Washington’s Constitution grants the governor the ability to issue reprieves or stays of execution. Attorney General Bob Ferguson confirmed Tuesday the “governor has the authority to hit the ‘pause’ button for executions in Washington.”

The governor said he spoke with the family members of the murder victims as recently as Monday. “In the course of one day, I heard different things from different families,” Inslee said. Some were disappointed, while others told the governor that the death penalty appeals process is a source of constant anxiety.

“It’s a hard decision given what it means to everyone in the state, and I’m comfortable that it is the right decision,” Inslee said.

Republican Rep. Jay Rodne sits on the House Judiciary Committee, and issued a statement Tuesday saying the governor’s decision comes at the “expense of victims of violent crimes and their families.”

“This must be a difficult day for these families as they are confronted with the reality that the governor cares more about a few convicted killers than justice for their loved ones. It’s unfortunate and prolongs the closure they deserve,” Rodne said.

Most recently, Cal Brown was executed in 2010. The next execution is expected to be Jonathan Lee Gentry, who is on death row for the murder of 12-year-old Cassie Holden. The Washington Supreme Court rejected Gentry’s petition for release last month.

Watch TVW video of Tuesday’s press conference here.

On ‘Legislative Review:’ Senate floor action, DUI bills and liquor taxes

By | February 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

On Monday’s edition of “Legislative Review,” we cover a handful of bills passed off the Senate floor, including one that asks the U.S. Congress to update the 1996 Communications Decency Act. Supporters say the act needs to be updated to prevent child sex trafficking on escort websites.

Plus, we have details about four DUI bills considered in the Senate budget writing committee. And the owners of former state-owned liquor stores ask lawmakers to eliminate a 17 percent fee that they say is driving them out of business. Watch the show below: