Ironically, the big problem facing us now is that committees in both Houses have passed legislation to do away with the death penalty. That should be a good thing, but it affects us very negatively, because legislators feel the need to guarantee that people sentenced to death never get out. As a result, post-conviction review for all people convicted of agg murder, whether or not they were sentenced to death, appears to be off the table as a result. That does not mean that our bill won’t go forward, but that it will probably exclude agg murder.We can’t let this be the last word on the subject! It must be possible to amend our bill to say that a person convicted of agg murder is eligible for review unless s/he has received the death penalty. In the meantime, I suggest we write to Dhingra and Pedersen, who seem to be working on a substitute bill (per J. Darneille’s email below), and ask them to find a way to make this happen.
Otherwise, LWOP for the 8 people on death row means no review for hundred of others. There is a better way to do this.
Below is the email that went out from Darneille’s office last night, while I was at the prison talking to the men in the CLO/BPC.
Subject: Post-Conviction Review Board Bill – update
Good evening all,
We had a very successful hearing in the Law and Justice Committee and I appreciate so much the outpouring of support for the development of a new post-conviction review board to help provide hope for people with long and life sentences. My concerns that the bill would have a tougher time coming out of the Law and Justice Committee compared with the Human Services Committee were not founded. Senators Pedersen and Dhingra are working on a substitute bill and there are several moving parts. With the vote by all Democrats on both committees to eliminate the death penalty, the conflict exists with that language that a person sentenced for aggravated murder will receive life without possibility of parole. I do not anticipate, therefore, that persons convicted of an aggravated murder will be eligible for a review by a post-conviction review board. Other issues continue to be discussed, but will be determined soon, as the bill must be voted out of committee this week. I appreciate very much the input and advocacy of everyone on this bill and recognize that our success with moving the bill forward will also come with some disappointments about the terms of the substitute and possibly additional amendments that may come up along the way, hopefully, to the Governor’s desk.
State Senator, 27th Legislative District
237 John A. Cherberg Bldg.
P.O. Box 40427
Olympia, WA 98504-0427
Phone: (360) 786-7652
Toll free: (800) 562-6000
Legislative Assistant: Lisa Fisch
Session Aide: Leena Vo
Session Intern: Nate Williams
Prison Voice Washington