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State attorney general says Inslee has power to issue death penalty moratorium

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson says Gov. Jay Inslee has the power to temporary halt the death penalty in Washington. - Kent Reporter, file photo
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson says Gov. Jay Inslee has the power to temporary halt the death penalty in Washington.
— image credit: Kent Reporter, file photo

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement Tuesday regarding Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement that he is implementing a moratorium on all executions as long as he serves as governor.

“Washington’s Constitution and state statutes grant the governor significant powers over the fate of individuals sentenced to death,” Ferguson said in a media release. “Consequently, the governor has the authority to hit the 'pause' button for executions in Washington.”

Article III, Section 9 of the Washington Constitution and RCW 10.01.120 grant the governor authority to issue reprieves — or stays of execution — as he announced he intended to do.

Washington has nine death row inmates. All nine are challenging their convictions in state or federal court. The Attorney General’s Office is handling the four cases currently in federal court.

The Office of Attorney General represents the state of Washington when death row inmates file “habeas corpus” petitions— or challenges to their convictions or sentences—with the federal courts. The Attorney General’s Office also represents the Department of Corrections in state and federal court litigation challenging death row inmates’ conditions of confinement and DOC’s execution policies and procedures.

“Consistent with the governor’s announcement, the Office of the Attorney General will continue to defend the state against cases brought by death row inmates challenging their convictions and sentences,” Ferguson said.

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