A strategically smart way to reduce the death penalty’s usage is to change laws to exempt people with severe mental illness. See a page of information I wrote in 2005 and updated in 2013. It’s at this link: Mental Illness – Evolving Standards – April 2005 handout
I have been pushing for that for many years, and I got the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty to push for such legislation. Although we got a committee hearing a number of years ago, the bill did not pass out of committee.
Some other states have been considering this approach. One is Ohio, which is nearly alone in being a northern state that vigorously uses the death penalty. In early June 2019 Ohio’s House passed HB 136 (to exempt people with severe mental illness from receiving death sentences) by a 76-17 vote. I don’t yet know what Ohio’s Senate will do with that bill. You can get information from Ohioans to Stop Executions (OTSE, www.otse.org).
In late May 2019 both of New Hampshire’s legislative bodies voted to abolish the death penalty – and they overrode the governor’s veto. See information here:
The risk of executing innocent people moved California’s Governor Newsom to impose a moratorium on executions. See this information from a non-profit organization, “Witness to Innocence,” (www.witnesstoinnocence.org):
“When Gavin Newsom was 11 years old, his grandfather introduced him to Pete Pianezzi, a man serving two life sentences for a crime he never committed. As his grandfather was helping appeal for a pardon, Gavin got to know Pete and his story, which led him to think long and hard about the death penalty. Pete had narrowly avoided a death sentence because a single member of the jury was morally opposed. Now, 40 years later, Gavin Newsom is California’s newly elected governor and he will not be signing any death warrants. Gov. Newsom has placed a moratorium on the state’s death penalty and disassembled the death chamber at San Quentin.
“When Governor Newsom announced the moratorium, he described the impact Pete’s story had on him as a young man and how it led him to learn more about many things that need to be fixed in our criminal justice system.
“We’ve created a system that allows for innocent people to be put to death. We don’t think that — we know that. We’re putting a stop to that by halting the death penalty in California.”