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The American state of Washington joins the civilised world…


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Author Topic: The American state of Washington joins the civilised world…  (Read 26 times)
Kiwithrottlejockey
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« on: October 12, 2018, 01:10:00 pm »


from The Seattle Times…

Death penalty struck down by state Supreme Court,
taking 8 men off of death row


The “death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially
biased manner,” the Supreme Court decided in a ruling published on Thursday.


By CHRISTINE CLARRIDGE and LEWIS KAMB | 10:40AM PDT — Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Washington state Supreme Court, in Olympia. — Photograph: Rachel La Corte/Associated Press.
The Washington state Supreme Court, in Olympia. — Photograph: Rachel La Corte/Associated Press.

WASHINGTON's Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional on Thursday, taking eight people off of death row and drawing praise from widespread opposition to the practice in the state.

The death penalty, as it's currently applied in Washington, violates the state's constitution, according to the unanimous decision by the court's nine justices. It's the third time the state's highest court has so ruled.

The ruling is a victory for opponents of the punishment who argue that it costs too much, doesn't deter crime and is applied disproportionately against minorities, especially African Americans.

According to the majority opinion of five justices, the “death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.” The court's remaining four justices agreed, but emphasized in a concurring opinion that other factors also undermined the capital punishment law's legality. The ruling orders the sentences of eight people currently on death row to be changed to life in prison.

Neil Fox and Lila Jane Silverstein, the lawyers who argued the case for death row inmate Allen Eugene Gregory, called the ruling historic and a recognition that Washington's Constitution won't tolerate an unfair justice system.

“By striking down the 1981 death penalty statute, Washington now joins the overwhelming majority of the world's democracies in its respect for human life,” Fox said in a statement.

With Thursday's ruling, Washington becomes the 20th state to overturn or abolish death as a legal punishment in what may be its final blow in a decades-long battle in this state. Two previous versions of Washington's death penalty were invalidated under federal Supreme Court rulings, but the state revised and revived the punishment each time.

Defense lawyers' last formidable challenge to Washington's latest death penalty law fell short in 2006, when the state's high court ruled 5 to 4 against a similar argument the punishment was applied unfairly, citing how Green River killer Gary Ridgway avoided a death sentence despite convictions for murdering 49 women.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, a death penalty opponent, said that since Thursday's ruling was based on Washington's constitution — not the federal constitution — it cannot be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Governor Jay Inslee, who issued a moratorium on Washington executions in 2014, said he expected the ruling to end the debate over capital punishment once and for all in this state.

“This is a full and final decision by the state Supreme Court, and absent any legislative action, there will be no more capital punishment in the state of Washington,” said Inslee, adding he would veto any bill seeking to resurrect the death penalty.


Washington state's death-row inmates, from left to right, top to bottom: Jonathan L. Gentry, Clark R. Elmore, Cecil E. Davis, Dayva M. Cross, Robert Lee Yates Jr., Conner M. Schierman, Allen E. Gregory, Byron E. Scherf. — Photographs: Department of Corrections.
Washington state's death-row inmates, from left to right, top to bottom: Jonathan L. Gentry, Clark R. Elmore,
Cecil E. Davis, Dayva M. Cross, Robert Lee Yates Jr., Conner M. Schierman, Allen E. Gregory, Byron E. Scherf.
 — Photographs: Department of Corrections.


Capital punishment has been a “four-decade experiment in our state that has been a failure,” King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said, pointing to cases that took 20 years or more to resolve, and prosecution costs of tens of millions of dollars.

Death sentences are often reversed on appeal and do not contribute to public safety, he said. Satterberg, who has previously sought death sentences in certain cases, last year called for the repeal of the death penalty in Washington.

Despite the ruling, the death penalty itself remains popular in many law enforcement quarters.

“I am someone who unapologetically believes that the death penalty has a place, and can sometimes be a just punishment,” said Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe, who has sought the punishment against defendants.

In a poll released in July by Public Policy Polling, 69 percent of likely voters in Washington said they preferred sentencing people convicted of murder to life in prison rather than to death. Nationally, opposition to the death penalty stands at 39 percent, according to a Pew Research Center Poll released in June.

The state Supreme Court ruling was in the case of Gregory, of Pierce County, who was convicted of raping, robbing and killing 43-year-old Geneine Harshfield in 1996.

The state's highest court did not revisit arguments over Gregory's guilt, noting his conviction for aggravated first-degree murder had already been appealed and confirmed. But his lawyers, Fox and Silverstein, commissioned a study statistical analysis by UW sociologists, Dr. Katherine Beckett and then PhD student Heather Evans, as part of the case.

The study evaluated all of Washington's aggravated murder cases from 1981 to 2014, revealing black defendants are more than four times as likely as white defendants to be sentenced to death. The ACLU also provided an amicus brief on behalf of Gregory, and dozens of former state judges urged to the court overturn the death penalty.

The Department of Corrections was still reviewing the ruling early on Thursday and had not notified any death row inmates about the decision, Jeremy Barclay, a department spokesman said. Legal information is typically relayed to offenders through their attorneys, he said.

Gregory's lawyers on Thursday planned an afternoon phone call with their client in the Walla Walla State Penitentiary to inform him of the ruling.

“We look forward to relaying the good news to our client,” Silverstein said.


This story was updated at 4:29PM PDT — Thursday, October 11, 2018.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related to this topic:

 • List of inmates whose sentences are changed from death row to life in prison


https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/death-penalty-opponents-cheer-washington-supreme-court-ruling-that-struck-punishment-down
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2018, 01:10:12 pm »


from The Seattle Times…

EDITORIAL: The end of the death penalty
is a proud day for Washington


Thursday's state Supreme Court decision effectively ending the state
death penalty does not weaken our justice system. It actually
becomes stronger when there's equal justice under law.


By THE SEATTLE TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD | 1:02PM PDT — Thursday, October 11, 2018

The execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla as viewed from the witness gallery. — Photograph: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press.
The execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla as viewed from the witness gallery.
 — Photograph: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press.


IN A proud day for Washington, the state Supreme Court affirmed on Thursday that the death penalty, as applied, is arbitrary, biased and unconstitutional.

Two of the three branches of state government have taken this important stand, with Governor Jay Inslee declaring a moratorium on executions in 2014 because the system is flawed and unequally applied. Although the court effectively abolished the death penalty with this decision, the Legislature should still remove it from state law and close the books.

The court's majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst,  states that “the use of 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. The death penalty, as administered in our state, fails to serve any legitimate penological goal; thus, it violates article I, section 14 of our state constitution.”

This does not weaken our justice system — it actually becomes stronger when there's equal justice under the law. Nor does it forgive the worst criminals, including the eight now on death row in Walla Walla, who will still die in prison.

Life sentences without parole also provide more certainty to families of victims. They will no longer be forced to endure the uncertainty of death penalty cases that may extend for 20 years through appeals and often are overturned.

“Today's decision does not let anyone out of prison,” Inslee said in a news conference with Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “We are now one step further in our pursuit of equal justice for all.”

The death penalty is becoming an anachronism nationally, in part because society has evolved, matured and better understands that it's a flawed system of punishment. Federal and state courts have narrowed its application, and 19 other states already have abolished capital punishment, according to the Death Penalty Information Center's tally.

State Senator Reuven Carlyle said the court decision provides “unstoppable” momentum to finally pass legislation eliminating the death penalty from state law.

The alternative, trying to revise the state's death penalty to make it constitutional, is unfeasible, and Inslee said he'd veto it anyway. Lawmakers tried over decades to make the penalty work, failed repeatedly and produced the arbitrary system that the court eviscerated on Thursday.

Indeed, the constitutional concerns have only deepened in recent years, noted a concurring opinion written by Justice Charles Johnson. “A death sentence has become more random and arbitrarily sought and imposed, and fraught with uncertainty and unreliability, and it fails constitutional examination,” it said.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, who has advocated to abolish the death penalty, summed up the court's historic decision well:

“It puts us on the right side of history,” he said. “I'm sure our kids would get rid of this if we didn't.”


This editorial was updated at 1:53PM PDT — Thursday, October 11, 2018.

__________________________________________________________________________

The Seattle Times editorial board members are: editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Donna Gordon Blankinship, Brier Dudley, Mark Higgins, Melissa Santos, and William K. Blethen (emeritus).

https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/editorials/the-end-of-the-death-penalty-is-a-proud-day-for-washington
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2018, 03:10:42 pm »

i guess when your locked up in a super max prison for the next 200 years with a 400 pound black guy
and your his sex toy death would be a mercy
bet you would love it
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2018, 03:40:11 pm »


The last judicial killing in Washington state was just over eight years ago.

Here is a news report from The Seattle Times archives covering that execution…




from The Seattle Times archives…

Killer on death row 16½ years is executed

Cal Coburn Brown was executed by lethal injection early on Friday morning
at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.


By JENNIFER SULLIVAN | 2:40AM PDT — Friday, September 10, 2010

Speaking after witnessing the execution of Cal Brown is the victim's father, John Washa Jr. who described his feelings of closure and love that he has for his murdered daughter, Holly Washa. At left, holding Holly's photo, is sister Karen Washa. Behind John is family friend Kim Bowen. To her right is sister Beckey Washa and at the far right is an unidentified family friend. — Photograph: Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times.
Speaking after witnessing the execution of Cal Brown is the victim's father, John Washa Jr. who described his
feelings of closure and love that he has for his murdered daughter, Holly Washa. At left, holding Holly's photo,
is sister Karen Washa. Behind John is family friend Kim Bowen. To her right is sister Beckey Washa and at
the far right is an unidentified family friend. — Photograph: Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times.


WALLA WALLA — Moments before his execution by lethal injection early on Friday morning, Cal Coburn Brown turned toward the family of the woman he tortured and killed in 1991 and said he hoped his death would provide them with closure.

“I understand your feelings and your hatred for me for the actions I took against your daughter and sister,” he said while strapped to a gurney in the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary. “I hope the actions taken tonight give you the closure you seek.”

Brown's execution came more than 16½ years after a King County jury condemned him to death for the rape and murder of 21-year-old Holly Washa of Burien. Washa's father, brother and two sisters, along with King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, were among those who witnessed the state's first execution since August 2001.

Speaking in a calm, almost relaxed manner, Brown addressed the gallery of witnesses for nearly three minutes. Stephen Sinclair, prison superintendent, held a microphone to Brown's mouth as he spoke. Two bright yellow straps held Brown tightly to the gurney, a lime green sheet pulled up to his neck.

Looking toward the witnesses, he acknowledged the anger of Washa's family, but did not apologize for the slaying.

Brown complained about sentencing disparities, citing the case of Green River Killer Gary L. Ridgway, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of 48 women after he cooperated with authorities, and Wai-Chiu “Tony” Ng, who could someday be released from prison despite his role in the deaths of 13 people in Seattle's 1983 Wah Mee massacre.

“I only killed one victim,” he said. “I cannot really see that there is true justice. Hopefully, sometime in the future that gets straightened out.”

When he was done, Brown said, “Thank you. God bless you and God bless my family.”

The witnesses watched through a window as Brown was administered five grams of the sodium thiopental intravenously. A curtain was closed a few minutes later.

Witnesses said Brown died about a minute and a half after the drug was administered. Brown was pronounced dead at 12:56 a.m.

“Cal Brown died a death that was quick and painless that was the result of almost two decades of due process,” Satterberg said. “I think the system worked and was very fair to him.”


Witnesses are escorted to the death chamber late Thursday before Cal Coburn Brown's execution at the Washington State Penitentiary. — Photograph: Photograph: Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times.
Witnesses are escorted to the death chamber late Thursday before Cal Coburn Brown's execution at the
Washington State Penitentiary. — Photograph: Photograph: Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times.


Washa was slain by Brown in May 1991, just two months after he was released from an Oregon prison where he had served time for assaulting a woman.

Washa had moved to the Seattle area from a small town in Nebraska with dreams of becoming a flight attendant.

“It's been so long that we have had to deal with all of this, now that it's over I don't have to think about him anymore,” a tearful Becky Washa, Holly's sister, told reporters during a news conference after the execution.

Sister Karen Washa held a photograph of Holly as she addressed the media.

“It should have been a private moment,” she said of the execution, which was also witnessed by several reporters. “The emotions we were feeling should have been for us and not for the press. The man doesn't know how to apologize. He's a liar.”

Brown's final pleas for a reprieve were denied in the hours leading up to the execution as the U.S. and state Supreme Courts, U.S. District Court and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals all rejected the separate efforts to spare the condemned killer's life. Brown's first scheduled execution, in March 2009, was stayed by the state Supreme Court less than eight hours before it was to be carried out.

Brown, 52, dined on a final meal of a combination pizza, apple pie along with coffee and milk on Thursday before he was led into the execution chamber.

Belinda Stewart, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections, said Brown was resigned to his fate and had spent part of the day speaking on the phone with family members as well as his attorneys.

Even as Brown’s attorneys fought on Thursday to spare his life, Satterberg told reporters Washa should not be forgotten amid the attention being paid to the scheduled execution.

“So many of the details surround the inmate, the offender,” he said on Thursday afternoon outside the penitentiary. “We want to remember Holly Washa in her prime. She was a young woman in her 20s when she was kidnapped and raped by Cal Brown. He is here tonight because he has earned his trip to death row.”

Jeff Ellis, one of Brown's attorneys, also spoke of Washa and her family after the execution.

“May the family and friends of Holly Washa be blessed as they move forward in their lives,” Ellis said in a statement. “They suffered needlessly as a result of Mr. Brown's murder of a beautiful, young woman. Our community must reach out and embrace them. And, we must remember and celebrate Holly's life and goodness.”

Ellis also spoke out against the death penalty.

“Tomorrow, we will not wake up any safer. Tomorrow, we will not know a more perfect justice. Tomorrow, we will not have taken steps to prevent the next murder.”


Cal Coburn Brown. — Photograph: Washington State Penitentiary. Holly Washa was raped and killed in 1991. — Photograph: King County Prosecutor's Office.
LEFT: Cal Coburn Brown. — Photograph: Washington State Penitentiary. | RIGHT: Holly Washa was raped
and killed in 1991. — Photograph: King County Prosecutor's Office.


About two dozen demonstrators voiced similar sentiments as they gathered outside the Walla Walla penitentiary to protest the execution. The state Department of Corrections had called in additional corrections officers to augment security and closed down streets leading to the prison in advance of the execution.

“It's wrong for the state to take the life of a human being,” said protester Tim Kaufman-Osborn, 57, of Walla Walla. “I'm not convinced that you right a wrong by killing the perpetrator.”

Washa had left Ogallala, Nebraska, three years before her murder believing Seattle was a prime spot to pursue a career as a flight attendant. She found part-time work as a dispatcher at a Seattle cable-television company and at a Hickory Farms store in Southcenter mall.

Brown carjacked Washa, 21, at knife point near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on May 23, 1991, and forced her to drive to a bank to withdraw money. He then held her for 34 hours at a motel where she was repeatedly raped, robbed, tortured and then slashed to death.

Brown then flew to California, where he was arrested for trying to rape and kill a woman. While being questioned by Palm Springs police, Brown told them they could find Washa's body in the trunk of her Oldsmobile in the parking lot of a SeaTac car-rental agency.

Brown had been released from Oregon State Penitentiary just two months earlier despite the protests of a prosecutor who had helped convict him in 1984 for assaulting a woman.

Brown disappeared after his release, and a parole violation warrant was issued in the state of Oregon on May 23, the same day Washa was abducted.

At the time of Brown's arrest for Washa's slaying, Benton County, Oregon, District Attorney Pete Sandrock called him “one of the most dangerous criminals I've prosecuted in the last 16 years.”

The state Supreme Court stayed Brown's execution last year after attorneys claimed that the state's three-drug method of lethal injection — an anesthetic, a paralyzer and a heart-attack-inducing drug — constituted cruel and unusual punishment and was prone to error. The decision was a blow to Washa's family, which had driven from Nebraska to Walla Walla to witness the execution.

In July, the state Supreme Court lifted the stay after the state switched to a one-drug method of execution, making the initial argument moot. Washington and Ohio are the only states that use the one-drug method.

Brown's execution marked the first time the state has used the single-drug method of execution. He is the 78th man to be executed in Washington.

The state's last execution was in August 2001, when James Elledge, 58, died by lethal injection for the 1998 slaying of Eloise Jane Fitzner, 47, at a Lynnwood church.


This story was updated at 1:07PM PDT on Thursday, October 11, 2018.

__________________________________________________________________________

Information from Seattle Times staff reporter Mike Carter and Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/killer-on-death-row-16-years-is-executed
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2018, 03:41:56 pm »


Soon it will only be the stupid Trump-supporting states indulging in judicial killings.

The rest of America is rapidly joining the civilised world, leaving the Trump-supporting boofheads in the North Korea/Iran/Saudi Arabia/Singapore/America despot killing club.
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2018, 04:50:37 pm »


from The Seattle Times…

Court ruling on death penalty could end the long
debate in Olympia over capital punishment


Thursday's ruling by the Washington state Supreme Court, combined growing
bipartisan support to end capital punishment, mark a major shift for a state
that has had some type of death penalty going back to territorial days.


By JOSEPH O'SULLIVAN | 5:53PM PDT — Thursday, October 11, 2018

OLYMPIA — In previous eras, when the courts have struck down the death penalty in Washington state — it's happened three times — lawmakers have come back to resurrect capital punishment in a new law.

But Thursday's state Supreme Court decision against the state's current death-penalty statute — grounded in findings that capital punishment is racist and unfairly applied — may end serious debate in Olympia on the topic once and for all.

Crafting a constitutional version of the law in light of the Washington Supreme Court's unanimous ruling would be difficult, according to key state lawmakers from both political parties, along with one law professor.

State officials have been inching toward a repeal of capital punishment, anyway.

In 2014, Governor Jay Inslee imposed a moratorium on executions. And, after years of anti-death penalty legislation languishing in Olympia, the state Senate this year passed a bill to repeal capital punishment. That measure stalled in the state House.

Those developments, combined with Thursday's ruling, mark a major shift for a state that has had some type of death penalty in place stretching back to its territorial days.

“This incredible, important and dramatic ruling provides legal justification and rationale to support the broad political momentum for full and complete replacement of the death penalty in Washington with life imprisonment without parole,” said Senator Reuven Carlyle (Democrat-Seattle).

“This has been a long journey,” added Carlyle, who has sponsored bills over the years to repeal the current version of the law, which was enacted in 1981.

The court's latest ruling found Washington's statute unconstitutional “because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner.”

Though the decision included two different opinions, “All nine justices of our state Supreme Court agreed that our death-penalty statute as applied is unconstitutional,” said state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

The lead opinion left open the possibility that lawmakers could enact a new law, according to Bob Boruchowitz, a former Seattle public defender and a professor from practice at the Seattle University School of Law.

But, “Given the Court's concern about the racially disproportionate application of the death penalty, and the experience it cites, I cannot imagine how the legislature could craft a statute that would be constitutional,” Boruchowitz wrote in an email.

Senator Mike Padden (Republican-Spokane Valley) reached a similar conclusion.

With 39 different county prosecutors in Washington, “You're never going to have equal results in these things,” said Padden, a former judge and current ranking Republican on the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

“I do think it's going to be very difficult to craft a new statute and actually get that passed,” added Padden, though perhaps it could pass as a ballot initiative.

The ruling disappointed Padden, who said he supports the death penalty in rare circumstances. He also described it as an effective tool for prosecutors who are negotiating plea deals.

Even before Thursday's ruling, state legislators and officials had been inching toward a repeal of the capital-punishment statute. Measures to repeal the law have slowly gained bipartisan support. Senator Maureen Walsh (Republican-Walla Walla) sponsored this year's repeal bill that passed the Senate.

A similar bill introduced in the state House this year drew two GOP co-sponsors.

Representative Laurie Jinkins (Democrat-Tacoma) and chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said two things have changed the debate over capital-punishment laws in Olympia.

One was the shift toward using DNA evidence that has resulted in dozens of instances around the country where people convicted of crimes were ultimately exonerated, said Jinkins. The other was hearing from some family members of victims whose perpetrators are on death row.

“When I first started there was this presumption that all family members supported the death penalty,” she said. But some of those family members have found the death-penalty process, which can involve years of appeals, re-traumatizing, she said.

Jinkins couldn't guarantee that the House would pass a repeal bill in 2019, but she said unconstitutional laws should be taken off the books.

Others aren't as enthusiastic. Representative Dave Hayes (Republican-Camano Island) and a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, said he has “real reservations about the death penalty.”

“I'm a pro-life sort of guy, end of life and beginning of life,” said Hayes. But, “we have to have some sense of justice for those families and survivors.”

Given Thursday's ruling, he said, “Why do we need legislation now? We have case law.”


https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/court-ruling-on-death-penalty-could-end-the-long-debate-in-olympia-over-capital-punishment
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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2018, 02:53:18 pm »


from The Seattle Times…

Meet the UW professor who just killed the death penalty

The state Supreme Court was just the scene of a two-year-long, back-and-forth
scientific smackdown, which ended in the death penalty being thrown out.
The professor at the center of it all talks about the experience.


By DANNY WESTNEAT | 7:56PM PDT — Friday, October 12, 2018

A file photo showing the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. — Photograph: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press.
A file photo showing the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla.
 — Photograph: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press.


WHEN the state Supreme Court threw out the death penalty the other day, the justices' opinions naturally focused on weighty constitutional questions, about equal rights and the proportionality of punishment in our criminal-justice system.

But most of the four-year-long case that led to the landmark ruling was consumed by a far less lofty question: Is Katherine Beckett legit?

Who, you ask? That's what she was wondering.

“I had no idea that my work, or questions about my competence, would become so central to a constitutional death-penalty case,” Beckett told me on Friday. “So to have it come out the way it did … it was exhausting and suspenseful, but in the end, extremely gratifying.”

Beckett is the University of Washington sociology professor whose 2014 study of capital-murder cases in our state found that black defendants were four times as likely to be sentenced to death as defendants of other races. It's no exaggeration to say this single finding killed the death penalty.

“To reach our conclusion, we afford great weight to Beckett's analysis and conclusions,” was how Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst put it in the court's unanimous ruling on Thursday.

But it's also no exaggeration to say that Beckett, a UW prof for 18 years, was put on trial every bit as much as the death penalty itself.

She and her co-author, Heather Evans, who was then a grad student but is now a UW sociology lecturer, were blasted as unethical by a state-hired expert. He accused them of “opportunistically” jiggering the models to reach a predetermined result. The state's attorneys derisively dubbed their work  “garbage in, garbage out”.

Beckett's study “should play no part in reasoned discussion about the role of race in the imposition of the death penalty,” wrote the University of California, Irvine, professor who was hired by the state, in a blistering 116-page critique.

Little known to the public, a behind-the-scenes scientific smackdown consumed the case for more than two years. About halfway through, the court went to the unusual step of deputizing a court commissioner solely to referee the hundreds of pages of disputes about statistical analysis and modeling.


Katherine Beckett, in a 2004 file photograph.
Katherine Beckett, in a 2004 file photograph.

It all revolved around one study, based on trial reports filled out by the judges in aggravated-murder cases. It looked at all 297 aggravated-murder cases from 1981 to 2014 in our state in which the defendants were both adults and eligible for the death penalty.

The second sentence of the study is shocking in its own right, and maybe helps explain why folks got so riled up: “To date, however, no published study has examined the role of race in capital sentencing in Washington State, where the death penalty was first authorized 160 years ago.”

We've never even looked at the issue before? We're putting people to death and we didn't even want to know.

“It is surprising,” was all Beckett would say about the lack of past analysis about race.

The findings of the study are fascinating. For starters, prosecutors over the 33-year period showed no racial bias at all when deciding whether to seek the death penalty, the study showed. Prosecutors were no more likely to bring the death-penalty hammer down on black defendants than anyone else.

But juries were not so equitable. At sentencing, which in capital cases also goes to the jury, black defendants were four times as likely to get death, Beckett found.

“It really implicates the juries,” she said of her study. She said it could be explicit racial bias or implicit, subconscious bias — it's impossible to know for sure.

The study attempted to correct for other factors in the cases, such as the number of murder victims or whether sex crimes were involved (the latter is much more likely to lead to a death sentence, as is killing a police officer.)

“Every possible objection they threw at us about our work, we answered,” Beckett said. That included submitting testimony from 12 experts backing their methods, correcting some data errors and re-running the analysis using different models. “The core finding about racial bias in the death penalty never changed.”

Here's how the court summed it up: “Where new, objective information is presented for our consideration, we must account for it. As a result of the State's challenge and …  fact-finding process, Beckett's analysis became only more refined, more accurate, and ultimately, more reliable.”

In academia, which is dominated by caveats and gray areas, that's what's known as a slam dunk.

Beckett says the ruling is a landmark because it acknowledges racial bias in our justice system — which this story shows can be extremely difficult for us to do. But she was also heartened by it for another reason.

“They took the social scientific work very seriously, including in how hard they vetted it,” she said of the court. “In this era of fact-free, emotion-based decision-making, I was pleased by that — to see that rigorous science still matters.”

It turns out science is still legit. That's as good news as I've reported in this space in quite some time.


__________________________________________________________________________

This story was updated at 8:18PM PDT on Friday, October 12, 2018.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/meet-the-uw-professor-who-just-killed-the-death-penalty
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2018, 03:24:04 pm »


Soon it will only be the stupid Trump-supporting states indulging in judicial killings.

The rest of America is rapidly joining the civilised world, leaving the Trump-supporting boofheads in the North Korea/Iran/Saudi Arabia/Singapore/America despot killing club.


Totally untrue each state has always had the right to make their own laws
and a lot of trump supporters do not like the death penalty

you have been played, your thinking is flawed

i feel sorry for you

wake up to yourself,try to get away from your brainwashing.
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Are you sick of the bullshit from the sewer stream media spewed out from the usual Ken and Barby dickless talking point look a likes.

If you want to know what's going on in the real world...
And the many things that will personally effect you.
Go to
http://www.infowars.com/

AND WAKE THE F_ _K UP

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