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The Abolitionist New




The False Promise of the Death Penalty  


Councilman Tim Burgess

Seattle City Council


Author's Note: Two high-profile death penalty trials are underway in King County Superior Court: the 2009 assassination of Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton and the 2007 Christmas Eve mass murders of three generations of the Anderson family in Carnation. Both crimes were horrific, senseless acts of hatred and violence that caused incredibly searing pain, suffering and loss for the victims' families, friends, neighbors and the broader community.


But, the death penalty delivers nothing more than a false promise.

   I was a Seattle police officer in the 1970s. I spent many nights in my patrol car doing exactly what Officer Brenton and his partner, Britt Sweeney, were doing when they were shot. As a Councilmember, I went to Harborview the night Officer Brenton died. I spoke briefly with Officer Sweeney. The targeted murder of Officer Brenton strikes a deep chord of grief within me. As a father of three and grandfather of two, the slaying of the Andersons does the same.


     I want swift and certain justice delivered to their killers, but the death penalty won't provide that swiftness or certainty.


     Some people believe they are safer because of the death penalty; they're not. 


     The death penalty does not deter homicides and does not make our communities safer. A review from the National Research Council concludes that no credible evidence exists to suggest that it does.

     Some people believe justice is better served by the death penalty; it's not. The pursuit of capital punishment delays final resolution for victims' families and communities, inflicting even further pain and suffering.     

Read the rest HERE