By Brynn Smith, WCADP Outreach Coordinator
On February 12th, nearly 60 concerned people from 26 legislative districts came together to voice their opposition to Washington state’s death penalty. From Bellingham and Vancouver to Spokane and Walla Walla, constituents trekked to Olympia to meet with their elected officials. Over the course of four hours, teams attended 67 legislative appointments and had an opportunity to meet with bill sponsors, Rep. Reuven Carlyle and Sen. Adam Kline.
Many participants reported that their meetings with legislators were extremely productive. The exorbitant cost of maintaining capital punishment concerns many lawmakers in Olympia, particularly in this current economic climate when budget shortfalls are being felt across the board. Some legislators pledged to make repeal a priority while others weren’t ready to declare a position. Perhaps the most important message we heard was that legislators need to continue hearing from their constituents. “I get at least a dozen emails a week from constituents asking me to protect their gun rights. I get maybe a handful of emails a year about the death penalty,” said one Senator.
Rep. Carlyle is optimistic about our chances for repeal. “We’re on the right side of history,” he proclaimed. “It’s not just in the queue…it’s in the queue big time. In the meantime, just keep educating legislators about the issue so that we’ll be able to make informed votes when the time comes.”