Washington Becomes 20th State to Eliminate Death Penalty

The state's highest court found that capital punishment "fails to serve any legitimate penological goal."

The Washington Supreme Court has ruled that the way the state has carried out the death penalty is unconstitutional. The decision, based on the state's constitution, ends capital punishment in Washington and converts remaining death sentences to life imprisonment.

The Washington high court found that the death penalty had been applied arbitrarily in Washington, with the race of the defendant being a significant factor. Governor Jay Inslee had already halted the death penalty in Washington with a 2014 moratorium, but the court decision puts an official end to the punishment.

The Death Penalty Information Center provides a national overview of the jurisdictions with and without the death penalty.

Effective date: October 11, 2018