Thursday, December 4, 2008

Arbitrary Nature of Death Penalty

Part two of KUOW's series on the death penalty in Washington state examines the legal complications of Washington's "volunteer" death penalty—meaning instead of certain crimes requiring mandatory pursuit of death penalty, it is up to the discretion of each individual elected prosecutor in the county in which a crime was committed.

With 39 counties in the state and 39 individual county prosecutors, the situation leads to all sorts of comparisons and questions about the arbitrary nature of the death penalty. For example, why is Darold Stenson likely to be executed while Gary Ridgeway, the Green River Killer, will serve life in prison. (One explanation: Ridgeway bargained for life by giving information about the location of the bodies of his victims who had not yet been found.)

If yesterday's piece was noteworthy for its compassion, today's piece is an equally adept look at the fallability of a system that must necessarily be administered by a collection of individual people.

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