When one thinks of the death penalty, one might think of Texas, which has executed more inmates than any other state in the country since 1930. But California is ranked fourth in the number of executions it has carried out, and 13 people have been put to death by the state of California since 1976.
In March 2019, Gavin Newsome, the state's new governor, signed a moratorium on executions, which is a reprieve to the 737 inmates on death row. But some startling and unnerving statistics from Los Angeles County regarding its role in the number and makeup of prisoners it sentences to die were recently released.
LA County District Attorney
The Los Angeles County's district attorney is Jackie Lacey, and her office has continued to sentence inmates to death despite the governor's moratorium. The office has won death sentences for 22 inmates--all of whom are people of color, and eight of whom were represented by attorneys who have had serious misconduct charges filed against them, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Thirteen of those sentenced under Lacey were Latino, eight were black, and one was Asian.
Lacey has been the district attorney since 2012, and since then zero white defendants have been sentenced to death. White victims of homicide only make up 12% of all homicides in Los Angeles, yet 36% of the district attorney's office wins for capital punishment involved white victims.
The ACLU also found some other troubling statistics.
- Of the 737 inmates currently on death row, 222 were from LA County
- In the last five years, LA County has sentenced more people to death than Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Virginia combined.
- LA County spent $48.4 million from 2000 to 2007 to seek executions.
Washington and the Death Penalty
In 2017, Governor Jay Inslee tried unsuccessfully to abolish the death penalty in Washington, but in October 2018 the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional, making it the second state on the west coast to abolish it. All eight inmates who were on death row had their sentences converted to life in prison. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled:
“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.”
Defense Attorney Steve Karimi
Attorney Steve Karimi provides proven and effective legal representation for clients across Washington. Having a skilled and seasoned attorney defend you against any criminal charges is critical. Contact his office today for a consultation at 206-621-8777.