Washington’s Supreme Court struck down the death penalty today, stating that the manner in which it has been “arbitrarily and racially” imposed violates the Constitution.
The ruling came in State v. Gregory, a case in which Allen Eugene Gregory was convicted of raping and murdering a woman named Geneine Harshfield in 1996.
The Court stated, “where a system exists permeated with arbitrary decision-making, random imposition of the death penalty, unreliability, geographic rarity, and excessive delays, such a system cannot constitutionally stand.”
In 2014, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a moratorium on capital punishment in the state. The last execution in Washington occurred in 2010. According to the Court, there are currently no pending cases where the death penalty is being sought.
Although capital punishment is allowed in 30 states (31 prior to today), data show that many states seek the death penalty in cases only on very rare occasions.
“The court makes it perfectly clear that capital punishment in our state has been imposed in an ‘arbitrary and racially biased manner,’ is ‘unequally applied’ and serves no criminal justice goal,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement this morning. “This is a hugely important moment in our pursuit for equal and fair application of justice.”