Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday halted executions in his state, a moved cheered by death-penalty opponents, reports the Seattle Times. The Democrat's announcement caught many people by surprise because it is not an issue the governor has highlighted in the past. One lawmaker called Inslee's decision “shortsighted,” and some county prosecutors said they will pursue death sentences regardless.
Inslee said no one would be executed while he's in office, but he did not commute the sentences of inmates on death row. That creates the potential for future governors to reinstate the death penalty in those cases. Inslee also is not proposing legislation to abolish the death penalty this year, although he said he would support such a bill if offered. Inslee said he made the decision after months of studying the issue, including a visit to a Walla Walla prison last month so he could be walked through each step of an execution.