It's helpful when news headlines recognize that not all victims' family members support the death penalty -- like this recent headline on the mynorthwest.com news site, "Relatives of murder victims oppose death penalty":
Relatives of murder victims in Washington hope their voices carry some extra weight in the debate over the death penalty.
Retiring State Senator Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, was among a group of
death penalty critics speaking out in Olympia Thursday. The six-term
state lawmaker has a personal story to share.
"In 1980, my brother-in-law was murdered and his body was dumped in a
park in Seattle," Regala told KIRO Radio. His killer was never
Still, she favors abolishing the death penalty. "We spend six
to ten times as much money pursuing a death penalty as we would if we
went for life without the possibility of parole," claimed Regala.
"When we look at the high cost, the staggering amount of money that
gets spent on this, that money could be so much better used in giving
police officers better tools to prevent crime, tools for helping solve
some of these cold cases."
Other relatives of murder victims share Regala's viewpoint,
including Karil Klingbill, the sister of Candy Hemmig, a bank teller
murdered by Mitchell Rupe in Olympia in 1981.
Those who support the death penalty often cite closure for
victims as an argument for keeping the law. But death penalty appeals
can last for 10 years or longer.
"That prolonged process means that there is no closure for a long
period of time and for many people, it re-opens the wound over and over
and over again," Regala countered.
Washington is among 33 states, as well as the military and the federal government, that allow the death penalty.
Legislative opponents plan to re-introduce a measure in Olympia
next session to abolish the death penalty and they are planning a rally
on the steps of the Capitol building in January.
KIRO Radio host Dave Ross said he appreciates hearing from
people like Regala. It's a different perspective that isn't always
considered. It stops him from wanting to totally abolish the death
Dave says he knows it's hard for family members to relive the horror
every time there's an appeal, but he suggests setting limits and not
dragging out the process might be a solution.
One benefit of the death penalty is it gives prosecutors a
bargaining chip. They cut a deal with the Green River Killer, Gary
Ridgway, to avoid trial and he plead guilty. He would have been up for
the death penalty, but those trials never happened and the victims got
closure. He's not on death row, but in prison in Walla Walla for the
rest of his life.
However, Regala doesn't believe it's appropriate to use it as a bargaining tool.
"We have people like Gary Ridgway who committed multiple
multiple murders and they have life without the possibility of parole.
And someone who committed one murder is on death row and may be