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Topic: death penalty

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February 18, 2014 at 6:25 AM

How the death penalty can bankrupt a county

At a meeting of Washington state county administrators last year, Jim Jones said one budget-busting scenario provoked the biggest wave of anxiety among the budget officers: a death penalty murder prosecution.

Jones, the Clallam County administrator and then-president of the Washington County Administrative Association, told me that five counties said the same thing: “If we had a death penalty case, and had to pay $1 million (in legal costs), we’d go bankrupt.”county death penalty

In an editorial calling for the repeal of the death penalty, The Seattle Times editorial board cited the enormous cost of capital punishment. Counties, with the duty of paying for courts, front much of the cost. The most comprehensive study comparing the cost of death and non-death sentence murder cases estimated the difference at $1 million – including the costs of lifetime incarceration. Counties have to pay for multiple top-end, death-penalty-qualified lawyers, experts, investigations and trials that stretch weeks, if not months.


Comments | Topics: criminal justice, death penalty, politics

May 7, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Bad brains, criminal family trees and the rise of neurocriminology

An interview last week on NPR’s Fresh Air with criminologist Adrian Raine raises a fascinating question: do bad brains cause bad behavior? Raine thinks so, and has the brain imaging research to prove it. Brain scans of psychopaths show their brains are different from normal people, and their amygdala, the emotional governor of the brain,…


Comments | Topics: crime, death penalty

April 4, 2013 at 6:15 AM

Why Washington should end the death penalty: 1,050 exonerated defendants

Washington, luckily, has a reputation for a relatively clean, competent criminal justice system. We haven’t had a West Memphis Three case, or had to empty our death row because, as Seattle Times investigative reporter Ken Armstrong once wrote, “justice has been forsaken” by error and incompetence. But a comprehensive effort by the new More

Comments | Topics: death penalty, Washington State Legislature

March 7, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Poll: Should Washington state repeal the death penalty?

Wednesday morning’s hearing on HB 1504 in the House Judiciary Committee reignited the question of whether to repeal the death penalty in Washington state.

State Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, says the issue is unlikely to get anywhere this year, but he hopes a public discussion — and “the transformational impact of DNA testing” — will lead to passage in the future. His bill proposes replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole. Proponents say doing so would save taxpayers tens of millions in court fees. Washington currently has eight inmates on death row and dozens of other capital punishment cases moving through the system.

Watch the fascinating hearing below, which opens with testimony from staff and both Carlyle and Republican state Rep. Maureen Walsh of Walla Walla. Walsh read a statement from former GOP Gov. Dan Evans, who supports repeal because “the chance for error is too great; the cost too high.” (I’ve posted his full remarks after the jump in this post.) The panel also heard from the family members of two murder victims who oppose the death penalty.

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Take our poll:


Comments | More in Polls, Video | Topics: crime, death penalty, law