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August 27, 2016

"Fourteen Years Later: The Capital Punishment System in California"

The title of this post is the title of this new and timely article authored by Robert Sanger and avaiable for download via Bepress.  Here is the abstract:

Fourteen years ago, the Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment issued a Report recommending 85 reforms in the criminal justice system in that state to help minimize the possibility that an innocent person would be executed.  The following year, this author conducted an empirical study, later published in the Santa Clara Law Review, to determine if California’s system was in need of the same reforms.  The study concluded that over ninety-two percent of the same reforms were needed in California.  In addition, the study showed that the California system had additional weaknesses beyond those of Illinois that also could lead to the execution of the innocent.

This article is an effort, fourteen years later, to determine what has transpired in California during the last fourteen years.  It will survey of the major scholarly and judicial work that has been published in the last fourteen years on the death penalty nationally and specifically with regard to California as well as on the progress, if any, to meet the unmet recommendations of the Illinois Commission.  

This article concludes that there has been much additional criticism of the failures of the criminal justice and death penalty systems in the country and specifically in California. Nevertheless, the empirical study demonstrates that no additional Recommendations of the Illinois Commission have been met in California in the last fourteen years.  Illinois, itself, enacted significant reforms to meet at least some of the Illinois recommendations.  Nevertheless, Illinois repealed its death penalty.  California, despite no reforms, has not, as yet. The voters will have that option on November 8, 2016.  By voting “Yes“ on Proposition 62, the California death penalty would be repealed.

August 27, 2016 at 02:57 PM | Permalink


Doug, you are a good man. Far beyond just msking scholarly reccommendations.

You have a good feel for the obvious and have enough finese (misspelled?) to present it so it can be acted upon. You remind me of Judge McConnel (I think) who dissented in the Begay case and this opened up the world for untold inmates.

Thanks for operating this blog site and your godd insite.

Thank You

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Aug 27, 2016 9:00:46 PM

"state has had 167 inmates sentenced to death since the beginning of 2007"

So though the state has not executed anyone for quite some time, they continue to sentence them to die in a flawed system.


Prof. Berman from my understanding supports the death penalty in a limited number of cases but also supports various reforms of the system used to carry it out. I welcome reforms even when I think the wider goal would be ideal. This is true for many a movement. All the same, no executions or a handful (as is the case in most capital states) will ironically lead to such reforms to be deemed less compelling.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 28, 2016 10:41:36 AM

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