To the Senate Law and Justice Committee Members,
I write this knowing that I will be in the Holy Land and unable to attend in person when you hold a public hearing on SB 6052, a bill to abolish our death penalty. I urge you, in the strongest way, to pass the bill out of committee. I feel great hope that with as much bipartisan support as has been shown, we have finally found something, and a very important something indeed, to agree on. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has consistently supported the abolition of the death penalty everywhere. In fact, since 1958 our House has called for the end of this punishment. During the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, the House of Bishops reaffirmed its longstanding call to put an end to the death penalty and called for the establishment of task forces in all dioceses in the 31 states where the death penalty remains legal, to develop a witness to eliminate the death penalty. I have gathered a coalition of clergy and lay persons within the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia committed to abolishing the death penalty within the state of Washington. We have great hopes in SB 6052. I am most often heartened in the discussions in the House of Bishops to be from such a progressive and forward thinking state such as Washington, but sadly, this issue remains a stain on that image.
There is not a shred of evidence that the death penalty deters crime. There is ample evidence that it is misapplied and has resulted in the death of innocent people. When will we decide that the risk is too great? It is indeed ironic that the very thing we believe will vindicate murder leads us to commit that very crime. It is time for reasonable minds and hearts, mature and courageous leadership, and a resistance to the failure of nerve that continues this shame on our state and on us as a people. Be those leaders. Today.
You are always in my prayers, and I hope I will be in yours,
The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel
Bishop of Olympia