Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry today voiced support for a measure aimed at addressing Gov. Jay Inslee’s blanket moratorium on executions in Washington. Holmquist Newbry says Inslee’s action is not only unconstitutional, but also insensitive to the victims, all of whom were women or children.
“Washington has nine offenders on death row, each and every one of them was convicted of murdering a woman or young children,” said Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake. “One of these depraved individuals raped and murdered the 14-year-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend. Another suffocated a 65-year-old woman in her home. Are these really the kinds of crimes Governor Inslee wants to go soft on – crimes of rape and murder specifically targeted at vulnerable women and girls?”
Holmquist Newbry is also disturbed by the way in which the governor’s moratorium circumvents the Legislature. “This is one of the most cowardly acts I have ever seen from a governor,” she said. “It is the job of the Legislature to decide whether execution is an appropriate penalty or not; if the governor believes that the death penalty has been applied inappropriately, he has the power to grant clemency on a case-by-case basis.
“Not only did Governor Inslee overstep his constitutional authority, he did so after the legislative deadline for considering bills, clearly hoping to avoid a legislative response. Fortunately, a bill may still be considered if it is deemed necessary to implement the budget.”
Holmquist Newbry said she plans to support Senate Bill 6566, introduced by Sen. Steve O’Ban of Pierce County. The legislation would prohibit a governor from exercising his or her powers of clemency until a recommendation is received from the state Clemency and Pardons Board. Specifically, the bill states this change is necessary in order to avoid the arbitrary or capricious use of the governor’s pardoning power, the callous disregard of the opinions of victims in the governor’s decision-making process or the potential that the governor could in effect override policy decisions made through the legislative branch.
“I thank Senator O’Ban for his leadership on this issue,” said Holmquist Newbry. “Young girls, elderly women and even our female corrections officers all need to know that their elected officials are looking out for them and their safety. Governor Inslee should be ashamed of himself for putting the interests of murderers and rapists ahead of the safety and emotional well-being of their victims.”