Washington Governor Jay Anslee Suspends Death Penalty: Which States Have Banned Capital Punishment?

On Tuesday, the governor of the state of Washington, Jay Inslee, announced that he’ll be suspending the death penalty in Washington, explaining that he’s “not convinced equal justice is being served” and citing concerns that “the use of the death penalty in this state is unequally applied.” While capital punishment will still be the law of the land in Washington, Inslee has pledged to issue a reprieve any time a death penalty case lands on his desk; this doesn’t mean the prisoner in question will be released, only that they won’t be executed.

This decision doesn’t outlaw the death penalty in Washington, and Inslee’s decision can be reversed at any time, either by him or whoever succeeds him as governor. But it does place Washington, if only temporarily, alongside the 17 other states, plus the District of Columbia, that have officially abolished capital punishment.

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New York

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Date abolished: 2007

Wisconsin

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Date abolished: 1853

Photo credit: Richard Hurd

Michigan

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Date abolished: 1846 (!)

North Dakota

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Date abolished: 1973

Rhode Island

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Date abolished: 1984

Washington D.C.

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Date abolished: 1981

Minnesota

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Date abolished: 1911

Massachusetts

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Date abolished: 1984

Illinois

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Date abolished: 2011

West Virginia

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Date abolished: 1965

New Mexico

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Date abolished: 2009