15 Feb 2014

Moratorium on executions in Washington state

7:25 am on 15 February 2014

The US state of Washington has put a moratorium on executions despite the fact the death penalty remains legal there.

Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State.

Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State. Photo: Getty Images North America / AFP / file

Governor Jay Inslee announced an immediate moratorium on the death penalty, which means as long as he remains in office, no inmate will be executed.

"A system that does not deter crime, costs citizens millions of dollars more than life imprisonment without parole, is uncertain in its application, is not right," Mr Inslee said.

The ABC reports he previously supported capital punishment but said a review of the law caused him to change his mind.

"When the ultimate decision is death, there is too much at stake to accept an imperfect system," Mr Inslee said.

Prosecutor Mark Lindquist reacted carefully, not wanting to jeopardise any of the death penalty cases he is prosecuting.

"The death penalty is still the law in Washington state and this moratorium will just be another factor for prosecutors to consider when deciding whether or not to seek the death penalty," Mr Lindquist said.

Washington state has put 78 people to death since capital punishment began in 1904.

Other governors in Oregon and Colorado recently enacted similar moratoriums.

The American Civil Liberties Union said the ultimate goal is to outlaw executions.

The ABC reports the death penalty remains legal in a majority of states but 18 have outlawed it, including six in the past six years.