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Washington State Strikes Down Death Penalty, Citing Racial Bias: NPR

" not attributed to random chance," the state's supreme court justices wrote in a majority opinion.
                    Ted S. Warren / AP

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Ted S. Warren / AP

"The state's supreme court justices wrote in a majority opinion." Not attributed to random chance.

Ted S. Warren / AP

The Washington Supreme Court has struck down the state's death penalty, saying it is arbitrarily and with racial bias.

" not attributed to random chance," the justices wrote in a majority opinion.

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a death penalty in Washington in 2014, and on Thursday it's a "hugely important moment in our pursuit of equal and fair application of justice."

Thursday's ruling makes Washington the 20th state to abolish capital punishment. According to the ACLU, this state supreme court is the third to do so citing concerns about racial disparities, along with Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The court decided to convert the sentence to life imprisonment. The state's corrections division says that there are eight people currently on death row.

This case was prompted by one of those inmates, Allen Eugene Gregory, who was found guilty of the 1996 aggravated first-degree murder of a woman. Gregory argued that the death penalty in Washington is "unquestionably applied," and the justices agreed with him.

According to the opinion, the convicted murderer was sentenced to death and was sentenced to death.

Catholic Church Now Formally Opposes Death Penalty In All Cases “/>

The report said, "It has not been in a jury's favor."

The state disputed the study's claims, but ultimately the justices they afforded "great weight" to its conclusions.

Thus, they are "retribution and deterrence of capital crimes by prospective offenders," as they are currently applied in the state.

At the same time, they did not completely rule out the death penalty again in the future.

"We leave open the possibility that the legislature may enact a 'carefully drafted statute' … to impose capital punishment in this state, but it can not create a system that offends constitutional rights," the majority opinion states. A concurring opinion thus supported invalidating the death penalty, but for different reasoning.

Gregory's conviction for aggravated first-degree murder.

Opponents of the death penalty , as the ACLU, are cheering the decision.

"There's nothing unique about the role racism played in Washington's death penalty," said Jeff Robinson, the deputy legal director and director of the Trone Center for Justice at the ACLU.

"What is rare is the Supreme Court?" Racial bias, conscious or unconscious, plays a role in the death who sits on the jury, what kind of victim impact and mitigation evidence is used, and who is given life or death, "he said.

KUOW reported that Cal Coburn Brown's execution in 2010 was the last time the death penalty was carried out in Washington.

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