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Sunday, May 3, 2020

Releasing Green River Killer Gary Ridgway: Fanatics On the Bench

     Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the so-called Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, murdered at least 71 teenage girls in and around Seattle and Tacoma, Washington. Police officers took the serial killer into custody in November 2001. Two years later, Ridgway, in order to avoid the death sentence, pleaded guilty to 48 murders.

     Gary Ridgway is serving a life sentence without parole at the maximum security prison in Walla Walla, Washington.

     Since the COVID-19 pandemic, 1,000 "non-violent" criminals have been released from Washington state prisons. But for advocates of the free-prisoner movement, these releases were just the beginning. These "social justice" warriors wanted to use the coronavirus epidemic as an opportunity to release 11,715 Washington state inmates from the state's prisons. That number amounted to two-thirds of the Washington state prison population.

     Of the 11,715 criminals the social justice people hoped to see back on the street, 470 of them were violent criminals serving life sentences without parole, and 5,272 of them were behind bars for crimes such as murder, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, and child molestation.

     In March 2020, lawyers representing Washington's get-out-of-prison movement filed a petition with the state supreme court asking the justices to authorize the early release of any prisoner who was more than fifty years old, had a underlying health condition, or had less than 18 months to go on his or her sentence. If a prisoner met any one of these conditions, he or she would be eligible to walk free.

     Based upon this prison release criteria, serial killer Gary Ridgway met the requirement for early release. A man who had murdered 71 girls would be set free to murder again. Also eligible for release was Spokane serial killer Robert Yates. Between 1975 and 1988, Yates murdered at least 13 women.

     The Washington Supreme Court petitioners demanded the release of  qualifying prisoners regardless of what they had done, or if they posed a serious risk to public safety. And this included convicted serial killers Ridgway and Yates.

     In late April 2020, the Washington Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 decision, rejected the early prisoner release petition.

     According to Spokane prosecutor Larry Haskell, even if the supreme court had authorized the massive release of prisoners, serial killers Ridgway and Yates would not have been set free. Nevertheless, the four dangerously radical justices who voted in favor of this reckless petition should be, at the very least, immediately removed from the bench, disbarred, and denied their pensions. 

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