Printable Version: Joseph McEnroe Press Release

The Jury Made the Right Decision: The Death Penalty Does Not Make For a More Safe or Just Society

Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
4759 15th Ave NE #309
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 622-8952

Contact: Danielle Fulfs
Outreach Coordinator
(425) 442-7101

The Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty supports today’s decision not to sentence Joseph McEnroe to death. WCADP Board President, Stefanie Anderson, said “There is no sentence in cases like this that can right the scales of justice. No sentence will bring those six family members back.” The WCADP opposes the death penalty in all cases.

The death penalty does not make us safer. Studies show that the death penalty does not deter crime, and states with the death penalty do not have lower murder rates. Eliminating the death penalty will allow for resources to be redirected to proven crime reduction strategies and increased victims’ services.

The death penalty is applied unequally. The most prolific American serial killer in history was not sentenced to death in our state.

The death penalty does not provide swift and certain justice. Death penalty cases take longer than cases where the death penalty is not sought, prolonging the pain of victims’ family members. This is what we have seen with the Joseph McEnroe case. The crime occurred in 2007, and it’s taken nearly 8 years to get to this point. Today’s decision ensures McEnroe 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 overturned. Pursuit of the death penalty in this case has wasted millions of King County taxpayer dollars. Had life in prison without the possibility of parole been pursued instead of the death penalty, the resulting sentence would have been the same but without the enormous waste of resources.

There is currently a moratorium on executions in Washington State, announced by Governor Inslee in February 2014. Washington’s moratorium puts the state in good company: Oregon, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Arizona also have moratoria on executions. There are 18 states without capital punishment – 6 of those have abolished the death penalty since 2007.



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