Saturday, December 17, 2011

New Execution Procedures Deemed Unconstitutional

Those who have been following up on death penalty practices in California recall that, after a six-year hiatus, CDCR instated new proceedings. Now, a Marin County judge has found the new proceedings unconstitutional, which might mean a longer delay.

The L.A. Times Blog reports:

A judge on Friday threw out California's new lethal-injection protocols, which have been six years in the making, because corrections officials failed to consider a one-drug execution method now in practice in other death penalty states.

The action by Marin County Superior Court Judge Faye D'Opal sends the state back to square one in redrafting procedures for lethal-injection executions. The death penalty has been on hold for six years in California after a federal court ruling deemed the previously used three-drug method unconstitutional because it might inflict pain amounting to cruel and unusual punishment.

D'Opal said in her 22-page ruling that the state's failure to consider replacing the former execution practice with a single-injection method violated state law and ignored the courts' and public criticism of the previous protocols.

Readers who are fed up with the new moves to tinker with the machinery of death, and who find themselves exasperated with the prospect of a CDCR appeal of Judge D'Opal's ruling, might find the SAFE voter initiative to abolish the death penalty in 2012 an attractive option. It would certainly put an end to the quibble over technicalities.

If you are on the fence about this, perhaps the humonetarian argument from the L.A. Times story will convince you:

A three-year study published earlier this year by a federal judge and a Loyola Law School professor reported that taxpayers have spent $4 billion to carry out 13 executions since capital punishment was reinstated in 1978, and that it costs at least $184 million a year to maintain death row and the capital defense system.

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