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April 30, 2010

Is California finally getting closer to bringing its death chamber back on line?

As detailed in this Los Angeles Times article, which is headlined "California revises execution guidelines," the state with the largest death row has finally taken a critical step forward in its long-stalled efforts to revise its execution protocol in response to constitutional litigation:

California moved a step closer to resuming executions Thursday when corrections officials announced new lethal injection procedures, beating a May 1 deadline by one day. The proposed changes in the death chamber procedures, though mostly minor, are intended to address concerns expressed by a federal judge in 2006 that the state's earlier three-drug sequence may have exposed some of those who were executed to unconstitutionally "cruel and unusual punishment."

Although the new procedures could get final approval by mid-June, executions are unlikely to resume soon because federal and state judges must first review the changes and decide whether they address the constitutional questions and procedural complaints brought by death penalty opponents. Those reviews are likely to extend at least through the end of the year, and other pending legal challenges could keep the current moratorium in effect for months or years....

California has 702 inmates on death row. Despite having the nation's largest population of condemned prisoners, there has not been an execution in the state since convicted killer Clarence Allen was put to death in January 2006.  At least six death row inmates have exhausted all appeals and could be scheduled for execution as soon as the legal reviews are completed, said Kent Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation that supports the resumption of executions.

Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Thursday's submission of the protocols was the final step for the agency in the "rule-making process." She declined to predict when executions might resume, noting the involvement of other state agencies and the courts.

Thanks to C&C, I saw that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has this new document titled "Timeline of Lethal Injection Protocol Regulations," which details why it has take the state moreso long to revise effectively its execution protocol.

April 30, 2010 at 11:42 AM | Permalink


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To answer your question: No.

As the article said the review won't likely be over until 2011. After that, I expect some federal or state judge to review the protocol for months before, give approval and then stay any executions to resolve some other frivolous issue. This isn't just pessimism. Far more conservative states like Missouri, North Carolina and Arkansas have been waitingout decisions like these for years.

Posted by: MikeinCT | Apr 30, 2010 2:11:27 PM

May the CA death penalty continue to R.I.P.

(And may Kent/Bill's monotonous droning lead them to nod off and do the same.)

Posted by: Walter | Apr 30, 2010 7:01:55 PM

Walter --

Kent's "monotonous droning" and mine is in harmony with the views of two thirds of the public, the Supreme Court, Congress, the vast majority of states, and most of the world's population.

Abolitionism's monotonous droning has prevailed with the EU, which is about to follow Greece, Spain and Portugal into bankruptcy. Other than that, you're losing the battle big time. Forty-five years ago, you were ahead in this country: 42% supported the DP and 47% opposed. http://www.gallup.com/poll/1606/death-penalty.aspx. Now, 65% favor and 31% oppose. To say the swing has been enormous doesn't quite capture it.

Way to go, Walter. A few more years of your droning and we'll restore the DP to EVERY state. So drone away.

Posted by: Bill Otis | May 1, 2010 8:32:24 AM

May the CA death penalty continue to R.I.P.

Posted by: thomas sabo | Aug 19, 2011 1:44:06 AM

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