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Death penalty suspended by Washington state governor

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Prison (stock)
Prison (stock)

A little more than a year after taking office, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee has halted any executions during his tenure. The moratorium was announced during a news conference today, reports the Associated Press, with Inslee saying that executions were being called for inconsistently, and do not discourage people from committing crimes.

"Nobody is getting out of prison, period."

Inslee's decision follows one by Maryland's state Senate last year, which voted to repeal the death penalty, a move that was later approved and signed by the state's governor. One important difference in Inslee's new policy is that he's not seeking to permanently change Washington state's law about executions, meaning the moratorium could end after his term is up. 18 other US states have abolished the death penalty, which is viewed as a more stringent form of punishment than a life sentence, but has drawn controversy over whether it's a violation of human rights.

The new policy does not mean the nine individuals currently on Washington's death row — or any future potential inmates — are off the hook. Inslee says he's not commuting current death sentences, and will instead temporarily stay any execution order. "Nobody is getting out of prison, period," Inslee said.