Evidence of Race Discrimination in Washington Death Penalty Cases Submitted to the State Supreme Court
On February 12, the day after Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a moratorium on executions due in part to inequality in imposition of the death penalty in the state, a comprehensive study showing significant disparities in death sentencing based on the race of the defendant was submitted to the state Supreme Court in support of a rehearing petition filed on behalf of MH&B client Jonathan Gentry. The study, done by Professor Katherine Beckett of the University of Washington and colleagues, shows that Washington juries sentence African-American defendants to death more than three times more frequently than white defendants, with all other factors held equal. The study was done at the request of lawyers for another African American man on Washington’s death row, Alan Gregory. It was submitted to the state Supreme Court in support of Mr. Gentry’s petition for rehearing of that court’s recent decision that found no prejudice resulting from numerous instances of apparent race bias in Mr. Gentry’s trial, which took place in Kitsap County in 1991.
Jonathan Gentry is represented by Tim Ford of MacDonald, Hoague & Bayless, and Seattle lawyer Rita Griffith.