Washington State Outlaws Execution

By Theodore Mattheiss

Opinion Editor

The Supreme Court of the state of Washington voted to outlaw the death penalty on Oct. 11, following the lead of several other states that have ended the practice in recent years.

This doesn’t represent a huge change in the state, practically speaking, as the governor of Washington imposed a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in 2014.

On its reasoning for striking down the death penalty, the Washington Supreme Court stated that the practice was racially biased and arbitrary.

“The death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner,” the justices wrote. “While this particular case provides an opportunity to specifically address racial disproportionality, the underlying issues that underpin our holding are rooted in the arbitrary manner in which the death penalty is generally administered.”

This is good, since the death penalty is an outdated form of punishment that does more harm than good. Its use has been declining across the United States, as more and more jurisdictions begin to favor life imprisonment as the worst possible outcome of a trial.

There are several reasons why the death penalty is a form of punishment we ought to do away with, a few of those reaons being that innocent people can and have been sentenced to death, only to have their innocence proved later on; all methods of execution are prone to mishaps that can cause great suffering for the prisoner before death; and the drugs that prisons use for lethal injection (the most popular form of execution) are becoming much harder to source, leading to further issues.

The existence of the death penalty stems from a primal urge that people have to see particularly evil criminals pay the ultimate price for their transgressions. However, practically speaking, life imprisonment results in the exact same effect as execution, as far as society is concerned: the individual in question is permanently removed from public life.

It may be satisfying on some level to watch vile criminals meet this fate, but that cannot justify the death penalty when the practice is riddled with so many problems that would cease to exist if we just utilized life imprisonment.

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