The Capitol Record

Should Washington abolish the death penalty? The Senate hears from the public

A hearing on abolishing the death penalty in the Senate on Wednesday got off to a heated start when Sen. Pam Roach interrupted the proceedings, saying “no one is representing the dead victims” because no one had signed in to testify against the bill.

“Where is the debate? Where is the opinion? This is a very important issue, and we only have one opinion at this hearing,” said Roach, who is a vocal supporter of the death penalty.

“No people have signed in on the con side. I can’t help that,” said committee chair Sen. Adam Kline.

Sen. Roach then called for a vote after only two people had testified. Kline allowed those signed in to testify to continue speaking.

The prime sponsor of the bill, Sen. Debbie Regala, has a personal tie to the legislation – her brother-in-law was murdered in 1980. But it is also a matter of cost. Regala said the death penalty is six times more expensive than life without parole. Often, capital punishment trials cost an excess of $2 million, she said.

“That’s money that could be used in so many more productive, positive ways in our state,” Regala said.

Click through to watch video of the entire hearing.

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