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May 3, 2010

California legislator urging state to adopt one-drug execution protocol being used by Ohio

I was intrigued and pleased to see this news item in the Stockton Record from California, which is headlined "Lawmaker pushes for state to adopt execution method." Here are the basic detail:

A Southern California lawmaker is pushing California to follow Ohio's lead and adopt a single-drug method for carrying out executions.

Sen. Tom Harman, a Huntington Beach Republican, said Friday that lengthy delays to the execution of Stockton's Michael Angelo Morales prompted him to sponsor the bill. Harman is running for California attorney general. "This is one of the ways we could speed this up and let justice be done," he said. "Let's just get on with it."...

Harman said Ohio has adopted the single-drug method - relying solely on a lethal dose of the anesthetic sodium thiopental. Ohio has executed five men with the approach adopted in November. Washington adopted a similar method in March, but has yet to use it. Harman said he believes California will follow suit. In April, his bill passed the Senate Public Safety Committee, a sign that it will continue to gain support and become law, he said.

The single-drug approach is common sense, he said. "This sounds simple. It sounds easy," he said. "That's why we're pushing this one."

Harman is bound to confront opposition in a hotly debated fight over California's use of capital punishment.

Natasha Minsker, ACLU of Northern California's Death Penalty Policy program director, said no amount of changes will fix California's troubled capital punishment system. For starters, it costs the state a lot of money that could be better spent solving crimes. "Those kinds of problems can only be fixed by replacing the death penalty system with permanent imprisonment," she said. "We're investing in things that don't work."

Particularly because opponents of the three-drug lethal injection method have long promoted a one-drug protocol as more humane, I was pleased when Ohio adopted the one-drug execution method late last year.  And Ohio has now completed five executions with no apparent difficulties using this better execution protocol.  In light of thse developments, I have been a bit surprised and quite disappointed that few other states have made a serious effort to adopt a one-drug lethal injection protocol.  Thus, in the absence of any new claims that the three-drug approach is preferable to a one-drug execution protocol, it is good to see at least some folks in California talking about following Ohio's lead here.

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May 3, 2010 at 09:55 PM | Permalink


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This is fine--so long as the six condemned who have exhausted their appeals don't have their executions delayed further.

Posted by: federalist | May 4, 2010 1:11:52 AM

This move will likely prolong the moratorium. A new 1 drug LI protocol has to go through the public comment process and other legislative procedures. This will take time. The new 3 drug protocol has already passed most of these and is nearing setting an actual execution date. This all feels like a ploy to drag this process out forever.

Posted by: MikeinCT | May 4, 2010 6:49:33 AM

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