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Subject: Washington State: Death Row reprieved rss

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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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The Governor there isn't going to send anyone else to their death's for the time being:
http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/washington-gov-jay-inslee-...

From what I have read, I agree with the guy 100%. The justice system is too fallible for the ultimate punishment.
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Boaty McBoatface
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I would agree, we do not have it in this country because of miscarriages of justice leading to innocent people being killed.

 
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Drew1365 wrote:
Okay, I'm not a big fan of the death penalty myself, but . . . isn't the Governor's job to see that the laws of the state are faithfully executed?

Since we're talking about executive orders and such, what does the law even mean if an elected official can decide not to enforce whatever laws he doesn't like?

Does the law mean anything anymore? Regardless of how you feel about this particular law, isn't the Governor basically violating his oath of office?

At the Federal level, the President can just pardon anyone. Short of impeaching him, nothing you can do about that. Can he commute as well as pardon? Do States give their governors similar abilities? (yes, I realise there may be 50 answers to that one). But if so, he may be well within his rights and responsibilities.
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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Drew1365 wrote:
Okay, I'm not a big fan of the death penalty myself, but . . . isn't the Governor's job to see that the laws of the state are faithfully executed?

Since we're talking about executive orders and such, what does the law even mean if an elected official can decide not to enforce whatever laws he doesn't like?

Does the law mean anything anymore? Regardless of how you feel about this particular law, isn't the Governor basically violating his oath of office?


I agree with you to the extent I'm not sure what the exact language of his "reprieve" option is as it pertains to Death Penalty cases. If it is open ended without a requirement for a justification based on the details of the case, then he is within his power. If not, then this may be an abuse. Though it might fall within the realm of refusing to obey an unlawful order. The definition of "unlawful" being the sticking point.
 
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A governor is effectively head of all executive departments in the state, including corrections. Absolutely he has the right via checks and balances to say to the judiciary that the standards for implementing this penalty are not acceptable.

He's effectively saying that the fairness of the penalty and its correctness is questionable.
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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Drew1365 wrote:

So understand that I'm not being a partisan hack or whatever RSP-ish insult you guys want to throw at me. I am just bothered by what I sense is an increased lawlessness among the political class.

No one's insulted you... yet! devil

Though I have to be real and say your disclaimer probably is not going to dissuade someone hell bent on insulting you.
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Ok Drew I want to be the first to insult you by calling you a republican nut job (I know I suck at insults, but my knowledge of english swear words is quite limited). That being said, I totally agree with you.
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I'm glad the governor has ended these death panels. Big government should not be trusted to decide who lives or dies.

Right?
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sbszine wrote:
I'm glad the governor has ended these death panels. Big government should not be trusted to decide who lives or dies.

Right?
Well, I guess you are joking but just in case...
Big government and elected official should believe the rules they live by. Particularly, they should respect the law and if they dislike it, they should seek to change the law instead of dancing around the bush.
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Tobias Strobe
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Drew1365 wrote:
We really seem to be hitting a place in American history where there are two sets of laws: one for the citizens and another for the political class and their well-connected pals.

Governors have done similar things for years.

In 1970, Winthrop Rockefeller commuted the sentences of all prisoners on death row in Arkansas. In 2003, George Ryan did the same, but he already had placed a moratorium in 2000.

As far as I know, this isn't illegal in Washington, which is what you appear to be suggesting. The exact rules regarding commutations of sentences varies by state (which Inslee didn't do, he's just issuing reprieves). I imagine that Governor Inslee consulted a legal team before taking action.

Note that he didn't abolish the death penalty in Washington, he just stated his intentions to issue reprieves. I think every state governor in the U.S. has the power to do this, but I might be mistaken.
 
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sbszine wrote:
I'm glad the governor has ended these death panels. Big government should not be trusted to decide who lives or dies.

Right?

The government is morally permitted to end lives under certain circumstances. There is a world of difference between those circumstances being, "Because you are guilty of murder" and "In order to save the money taking care of you would cost".
 
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Drew1365 wrote:
Okay, so it looks like Oregon's governor has essentially been doing the same thing for years.

So back to the thing: here's the Oath of Office for Governor of Washington State.

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Washington, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of (name of office) to the best of my ability.

Do we need to "FTFY" so it says "I will arbitrarily support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the state of Washington, depending on whether I agree with the law or not"?

I think there's a vast difference between saying, "We shouldn't execute these people because we're not sure enough that they're guilty," and saying, "We shouldn't execute anybody for any reason." The former is compatible with that oath in a state where the death penalty is legal. The latter represents a line of thought that IMO would be best pursued by getting your friends in the legislature to propose a law ending the death penalty.
 
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Tobias Strobe
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Drew1365 wrote:
Ilthuain wrote:
Drew1365 wrote:
We really seem to be hitting a place in American history where there are two sets of laws: one for the citizens and another for the political class and their well-connected pals.

Governors have done similar things for years.

So what? That doesn't negate my concerns. Are we a nation of laws? Or are we a nation of whims?

You said "We really seem to be hitting a place in American history where there are two sets of laws". I was mentioning that a governor using his/her power to issue commutations and reprieves isn't new, therefore it's not a herald of a new "...place in American history where there are two sets of laws..."

What Inslee did certainly has precedent, and appears to be one of the more common powers given to governors.

How does offering reprieves move the scale from "law" to "whim"? Did he just make up this ability on a whim? Is giving an elected official specific powers not somehow lawful?

I don't really get what you're objecting to here.
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Drew1365 wrote:
I'm against death panels. That doesn't mean I don't think we should actually follow the laws we pass. Otherwise why bother to have laws at all? Let's just obey the orders of whatever dictator is currently in charge.
Fair point if the the governor is ignoring the law, but not if commutation is one of his legal powers. So -- is the governor empowered to commute death sentences or not?
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Ilthuain wrote:
I don't really get what you're objecting to here.

He's objecting to the idea that the executive can effectively ignore a law on the books that was passed appropriately and that resulted in penalties that were applied.

Of course, the law also gives the governor specific powers to do precisely what he did, so it's not like ignoring a law that grants a new tax break or requires a new type of regulation on pollution where there isn't a specific authority granted.

To an extent, it's a reasonable argument. But only to an extent. It's two branches of government using the checks and balances provided to them, so it's more of a political issue in terms of support than legality or constitutionality.

In contrast, I think the Obama administration's decision not to defend DOMA (however much I disagree with the law) through the appellate process was a bad one. They had a responsibility to put up a fight and they walked away from that. Hire outside counsel if you don't want to do it yourself.

But those are pretty different situations.
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perfalbion wrote:

Of course, the law also gives the governor specific powers to do precisely what he did, so it's not like ignoring a law that grants a new tax break or requires a new type of regulation on pollution where there isn't a specific authority granted.

This is why I'm confused. It appears to me, the layman, that the governor has the power to do this, and historically has had the power to do this. I could see being upset that Inslee decided to do this, but the talk of different laws for the political class doesn't seem to have any connection to what actually happened.
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He isn't actually cancelling the law. He has the law given power to commute any death penalty sentence:

"The governor has the constitutional power to commute executions."

"Washington’s constitution and state statutes grant the governor significant powers over the fate of individuals sentenced to death. Consequently, the governor has the authority to hit the ‘pause’ button for executions in Washington.”

-WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

He isn't overruling any law. He has said that any death penalty verdict that comes his way will be commuted.

All within the State law.
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I don't think this is much different from what has been going on for awhile. It seems like very few people actually go to execution. In PA there have been 3 executions (all voluntary), but we have one of the biggest death rows.

Texas is the obvious exception.

This is one reason it can be such a waste of money. All the money gets spent getting a death sentence, but then money is spent keeping them in prison anyway.
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Lee Fisher
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Quote:
Only five individuals have been executed by the state of Washington since the death penalty statute was reformed following the 1976 Supreme Court decisions. As of June 30, 2013, there were eight individuals on Washington's death row, all of them men.

They maybe have 9 on death row now and 5 executed since 76? How is this even a story?
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Xander Fulton
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lfisher wrote:
Quote:
Only five individuals have been executed by the state of Washington since the death penalty statute was reformed following the 1976 Supreme Court decisions. As of June 30, 2013, there were eight individuals on Washington's death row, all of them men.

They maybe have 9 on death row now and 5 executed since 76? How is this even a story?

Because large swaths of the flyover states get themselves all up in a tizzy whenever one of the 'left coast' states questions whether they always have enough evidence to warrant killing people?

(Which is particularly amusing, given Oregon and Washington - having both recently taken such positions on execution from the state level - also both have VERY generous self-defense laws. These states tend to have a real problem with trusting the government to have the right level of information to decide to execute someone...but tend towards a lot of leeway for individuals to kill each other in self defense, if necessary. You'd THINK that would be the kind of thing conservatives would be behind, but...I dunno...)
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Drew1365 wrote:
We really seem to be hitting a place in American history where there are two sets of laws: one for the citizens and another for the political class and their well-connected pals.

And we have a lot of people who think there's nothing wrong with this because of who they align themselves with.

This will not end well.

This particular instance has nothing to do with "the political class" (whatever that means). Commutation of criminal sentences has always (aka clemency, including pardons) has always been an executive power.

U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 2:
Quote:
The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

That's the source of the President's (exclusive) authority to commute federal sentences. The Washington State constitution contains this in Article II, Section 9:

Quote:
SECTION 9 PARDONING POWER. The pardoning power shall be vested in the governor under such regulations and restrictions as may be prescribed by law.

I have't found anything specifically in the Washington state code that would either permit or limit the governor's power to do what he has done. The closest I can get is here:

Quote:
Nothing in chapter 1, Laws of 1994 shall ever be interpreted or construed as to reduce or eliminate the power of the governor to grant a pardon or clemency to any offender on an individual case-by-case basis. However, the people recommend that any offender subject to total confinement for life without the possibility of parole not be considered for release until the offender has reached the age of at least sixty years old and has been judged to be no longer a threat to society. The people further recommend that sex offenders be held to the utmost scrutiny under this subsection regardless of age.
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