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May 3, 2013

Democrats kill death penalty reform proposals in California

As reported in this local article, "legislation to shorten death penalty appeals in California, and bring back the gas chamber, has been rejected by a state Senate committee." Here are the details:

The bill, sponsored by the California District Attorneys Association, was defeated by the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday on a party-line 5-2 vote.

Backers of SB779, including its author, state Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine (San Diego County), said the bill would speed up executions in California, which have been blocked by court orders since 2006.  It was introduced following the narrow defeat in November of a ballot measure to repeal the state's death penalty law.

The bill would have limited most condemned prisoners to one round of appeals in the state court system and another in federal court.  Other provisions would have eliminated public review of regulations on execution procedures, barred disclosure of the suppliers of drugs used in executions and authorized a new method of gas chamber executions.

California's last execution by cyanide gas was in 1993.  A federal judge ruled a year later that the gas chamber at San Quentin caused excruciating pain and violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Lethal injections at the prison were halted in 2006 when another federal judge ruled that the executions, carried out by poorly trained staff in a dimly lit chamber, posed an undue risk of a prolonged and agonizing death.  The court-imposed moratorium is likely to remain in place at least through 2013 as the state tries to validate new regulations and cope with a shortage of execution drugs.

May 3, 2013 at 10:37 AM | Permalink


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As I always say, what is it about Democrats and their solicitude towards capital murderers. Do they like inflicting misery on murder victims' families?

Posted by: federalist | May 3, 2013 11:03:58 AM

Support of due process of law and opposing a means of execution deemed a violation of the 8A or generally bad policy nation-wide inflicts misery on murder victims' families? The novel nature of the gas procedure could easily be opposed by conservative minded sorts. It would probably ironically (like 1990s habeas legislation) give one more layer of appeal opportunities.

What about those who oppose the death penalty? They count? But, if the people of California are wrong, go at it -- convince them otherwise, so they can vote in the right people. Perhaps those -- unlike the last few decades -- who give the death penalty so little attention. If that is how one wants to go.

Also, not sure why concern for the victims here requires "eliminated public review of regulations on execution procedures, barred disclosure of the suppliers of drugs used in executions." Open government is bad for victims?

Posted by: Joe | May 3, 2013 11:44:52 AM

by a part-line vote

“Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged….A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform
vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."
--Geo. Washington, 1792, Farewell Address

"If we fail to execute murderers, and doing so would in fact have deterred other murders, we have allowed
the killing of innocent victims."
--John C McAdams, 1998, Law & Contemporary Problems

Posted by: Adamakis | May 3, 2013 11:46:44 AM

George Washington was re-elected for a second term in 1792. He tended to support Federalist policies and opposed various positions supported by the D-R party. Realistically, people will associate into groups, parties, government not done by individual actors alone. The party system arose basically right away.

We don't execute most murderers. Never did. Only a small subset of murderers are sentenced to die and a smaller subset are executed. This ways always the case. Studies show deterrence is at best a wash as a justification for the penalty. The ultimate reason is a moral justice one. Pure deterrence might justified not following any number of procedural protections. Beyond a reasonable doubt, e.g., "allows" certain people to commit more crimes.

Can we move on from sound bites?

Posted by: Joe | May 3, 2013 11:53:03 AM

“The novel nature of the gas procedure could easily be opposed by conservative minded sorts.”
Right, but so much more easily opposed by knee-jerk liberals (Democrats).
--- --- ---
--Geo. Washington, 1792, Farewell Address
Joe, I was wrong with the date.
“The first draft was originally prepared in 1792 with the help of James Madison, as Washington prepared to retire following a single term in office. However, he set aside the letter and ran for a 2nd term… Four years later, as his second term came to a close, Washington revisited the letter and with the help of Alexander Hamilton prepared a revision of the original draft “

Posted by: Adamakis | May 3, 2013 12:12:30 PM

The Death Penalty Information Center released a report saying "California found that the state was spending $137 million a year on capital cases. A comparable system that instead sentenced the same offenders to life without parole would cost $11.5 million"

It's immensely more expensive to execute someone that to sentence them to life without parole. I think the allure of the death penalty is revenge, but you also have to keep in mind that many people have been convicted to die then later found innocent. It's not a republican or democrat issue, it's a financial one.

Posted by: J.Steves | May 3, 2013 12:58:52 PM

:: It's immensely more expensive to execute someone ::
Why ya'll think?
Who's responsible for the extra cost?


:: It's not a republican or democrat issue, it's a financial one. ::
Post-ABC poll: Boston bombing suspect
Q: Do you support or oppose the death penalty in this case, if he's convicted?

Registered voters:
72% support::::::::27% oppose

All adults
70% support::::::::27% oppose

72% support::::::::27% oppose......64% support::::::::35% oppose......

Conserv Republicans..................Lib Democrats
86% support::::::::13% oppose......51% support::::::::49% oppose......

"for alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev...seven in 10 say he should receive the death penalty if convicted....
in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, there are substantial partisan, ideological and racial differences."--abcnews.go.com

Posted by: Adamakis | May 3, 2013 4:32:47 PM

Before you reference the studies on cost bear in mind that none of them take into account the full cost of appeals and medical care for inmates serving life.

I would also like to know who the names of the inmates proven innocent of crimes for which they were executed.

Posted by: MikeinCT | May 3, 2013 5:28:17 PM

Well, we can reduce the costs of the DP right now by setting dates for the 10 or so California capital murderers who have exhausted appeals. And as for the cause of the costs---need we look further than the party of the president that appointed the judge who said that a 100 watt lightbulb is a constitutional command.

As for Joe, once again some cute little disingenuousness. Libs love to wrap up their objections to executions in words like due process, open government etc. That's because they don't want to admit that they want to help capital murderers. Public knowledge of the source of drugs should be restricted for obvious reasons. And subjecting capital punishment to APA-style rule-making is silly. We know how much drugs need to go into the guy. Joe doesn't like the death penalty---but he doesn't want to admit that he favors thwarting the public will and putting victims families (who didn't ask to be in their spot) through hell, so he'll toss around hackneyed soundbites.

Posted by: federalist | May 3, 2013 8:25:24 PM

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