Executions by Ethnicity (Between CY 1904 — 2010)
- Caucasian – 66
- Black – 7
- Asian – 2
- Hispanic – 2
- Eskimo – 1
On October 11, 2018, in the case of State v. Gregory, the Supreme Court of Washington found:
“the death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner. The use of the death penalty is unequally applied – sometimes by where the crime took place, or the county of residence, or the available budgetary resources at any given point in time, or the race of the defendant. The death penalty, as administered in our state, fails to serve any legitimate penological goal; thus, it violates article I, section 14 of the state constitution. All death sentences are hereby converted to life imprisonment.”
At the time of the Gregory decision, and per RCW 10.95 Capital Punishment–Aggravated First Degree Murder , any person who had been sentenced to death was imprisoned in Washington State Penitentiary's segregation unit within ten days after the trial court entered a judgment and sentence imposing the death penalty, and assigned to single-person cells. All executions were to be carried out within the walls of the state penitentiary, and procedures for conducting executions were supervised by the state penitentiary superintendent.
Methods of Execution
Prior to Gregory, two methods of execution were legal in Washington: lethal injection and hanging. Lethal injection was used unless the inmate under sentence of death chose hanging as the preferred execution method. Death shall be pronounced by a licensed physician.