For Immediate Release
Washington Coalition to Abolish the death Penalty
4759 15th Ave NE #309
Seattle, WA 98105
Contact: Danielle Fulfs
The Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty supports today’s decision not to sentence Christopher Monfort to death. WCADP Board President, Stefanie Anderson, said “There is no sentence in cases like this that can right the scales of justice. The WCADP opposes the death penalty in all cases.”
The death penalty is applied unequally. In Washington, black defendants are 4.5 times as likely to receive the death penalty than white defendants for similar crimes. Other social factors that increase someone’s chances of getting the death penalty are whether or not the case was high profile (4.4 times as likely), and whether or not a member of law enforcement was killed (4.7 times as likely). All of these apply to Christopher Monfort’s case.
The death penalty does not provide swift and certain justice. Death penalty cases take longer than cases where the death penalty is not sought. This is what we have seen with the Monfort case. The crime occurred in 2009, and it’s taken nearly 6 years to get to this point. Today’s decision ensures Monfort will spend the rest of his life in prison, and spares the victims’ families an average of 15 years of constitutionally mandated appeals that would have followed a death sentence.
Seeking the death penalty is very expensive, costing much more than life without parole. A study by Seattle University criminologists found the average total costs to the justice system related to the pursuit of the death penalty were over one million dollars more per case than similar cases where the death penalty was not sought. Since capital punishment’s reinstatement in Washington State in 1981, nearly 80% of death sentences have been commuted to life in prison without parole.
Governor Inlsee announces a moratorium in February 2014, putting the state in good company: Oregon, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Arizona also have moratoria on executions. There are 19 states without capital punishment – 7 of those have abolished the death penalty since 2007.
King County should not have sought the death penalty, wasting millions of King County taxpayer dollars. Had life in prison without the possibility of parole been pursued instead, the resulting sentence would have been the same but without the enormous waste of resources. The money spent seeking the death penalty in this case should have been spent on preventing crime and supporting the victims of violent crime; not on pursuing an ineffective policy.