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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

One of the reasons I ran for public office was to give a voice to the people that didn't have much of one when it comes to public safety policy: the victims and their families.

It would appear I'm in the right place at the right time as some lawmakers in Olympia attempt to eliminate the death penalty from Washington state law. Senate Bill 5339 is request legislation from Attorney General Bob Ferguson, someone who appears to care more about the criminals than those they prey upon.

But eliminating the death penalty gets rid of one of the most effective bargaining tools prosecutors have when dealing with violent predators. In fact, here's a statement from former King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng explaining how the death penalty was the main bargaining chip used to bring justice to so many families, and answers to the community, after Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, was caught:

“We could have gone forward with seven counts, but that is all we could have ever hoped to solve.  At the end of that trial, whatever the outcome, there would have been lingering doubts about the rest of the these crimes.  This agreement was the avenue to the truth.  And in the end, the search for the truth is still why we have a criminal justice system.

“Gary Ridgway does not deserve our mercy.  He does not deserve to live.  The mercy provided by today's resolution is directed not at Ridgway, but toward the families who have suffered so much, and to the larger community.  Justice and mercy: for the victims, the families, and the community.  That is why we entered into this agreement.”

The fact is, Ridgway entered into a plea deal – as many violent criminals do – to avoid the death penalty, thus saving the state money and providing resolution to so many victims' families. If we take this penalty away, the worst a violent offender can get is life in prison without the possibility of parole. But wait – the Democrats just sponsored a bill to eliminate that as well! (Senate Bill 5819)

If both Senate bills pass, the highest punishment in our state would be “life in prison,” which any prosecutor will tell you equates to 15 years. That's it! Fifteen years and you're paroled if you've behaved! Think about that for just a second. Violent sexual predators who have murdered, raped, dismembered their victims and even had post-death sexual encounters with their bodies would only be in prison for 15 years.

This is wrong on so many levels. I am fighting against this shortsighted push to reduce harsh sentences. I'm working to keep our children and our communities safe. But I need your help. Please write letters to the paper and to your elected officials. Let your friends and neighbors know. We're already seeing violent sexual predators dumped into our communities. Imagine what will happen when there are no long-term sentences or any real punishments because they have been bargained away in plea deals that START at the 15-year mark.

What do you think? Should lawmakers eliminate the death penalty? Take my survey and let me know what you think.

Rep. Jenny Graham and Legislative Assistant Hunter Pederson.

My first bill
I introduced legislation to help protect certain private information of firefighters, first responders and others who file PTSD claims through L&I. House Bill 1909 passed the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee and awaits further action in the House Rules Committee. You can read more about my bill here.

Join us for our 6th District Telephone Town Hall
Mark your calendars now for our 6th District Telephone Town Hall. On Tuesday, March 26 we will be hosting a “community conversation” from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. This is an easy and convenient way to hear what's going on in Olympia and for you to ask us questions. Just call (509) 795-2166 between 6:00 and 7:00 pm on that day to participate. I hope you can join us!

Thank you for staying involved and for allowing me to serve you in Olympia. If you ever need help with state government or have questions or concerns, I'm here to help.

Sincerely,


Jenny Graham

State Representative Jenny Graham, 6th Legislative District
RepresentativeJennyGraham.com
404 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
jenny.graham@leg.wa.gov
360-786-7962 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000