I was in Washington state earlier this month, where I met with two senators in Olympia, the state capitol, to plan a strategy to repeal the death penalty in Washington. It’s been years since there was an execution here and only a handful of people are on death row. As I talk in various universities I’m learning that a number of Washingtonians don’t even know there is a death penalty in the state.
Like many other states WA faces a severe budget crunch this year, so the bill will focus on taking the extravagant amount of money used to maintain a death machine and devote it instead to real help for murder victims’ families, solving cold cases, and doing catch up on the huge backlog of prisoners awaiting DNA tests.
A key part of the organizing strategy will be to involve college students in the three-year campaign of repeal.
Whenever we talk budget I always emphasize that financial resources are not simply a “practical” issue, but rather a deeply moral issue. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to say a budget is a moral document.