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  • Writer's pictureWCADP

Washington state is ready to put an end to the death penalty, by Eldon Vail

" reasons for wanting to see state legislators repeal the death penalty once and for all are more personal. I have worked as a corrections professional for 35 years, 11 as the secretary and deputy secretary of Washington’s Department of Corrections. I’ve been in the execution chamber as a prisoner was put to death when I was the deputy and I have given the order to proceed with the execution when I was the secretary. I’ve discussed these experiences with the four other secretaries who either gave the order or were in the execution chamber during the five executions carried out in Washington in modern times — Chase Riveland, Joe Lehman, Dick Morgan, and Dan Pacholke.

Each of us speaks from firsthand experience, from giving the order to proceed with the execution, to being present in the death chamber when the noose was placed around a prisoner’s neck or when he was strapped to the table for lethal injection. We have witnessed the process and supervised the staff tasked with carrying it out. All of us agree it is past time to put an end to this practice, which has led to the execution of 78 men in Washington since 1904. The most recent execution was in 2010."

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