CA Offers New Lethal Injection Guidelines
Executions have been on hold in California for nearly four years but may resume in the near future as the California Department of Corrections has offered its new lethal injection procedures.
The revised execution guidelines make changes in the death chamber procedures and address concerns that the three-drug procedure is "cruel and unusual," the Los Angeles Times reports.
In regards to procedural questions, the new guidelines clarify who can serve on the execution team, where witnesses can be located and how to deal with potential mishaps during the process. They also address issues related to a federal judge's concerns from 2006 about the state's three-drug formula.
As previously discussed, California has the nation's largest number of death row inmates with a record of now just over 700. Given that, many legal experts have said the state's capital punishment system is dysfunctional.
In addition, the long wait list of California inmates facing capital punishment and an appeals process that can take decades, further highlights how broken the system is and the empty threat it poses.
The new guidelines still need final approval, which could take until June. Next, it must be approved by state and federal judges who will review the changes and decide whether they address the constitutional questions and procedural complaints. That could take until the end of the year, while the current moratorium on executions could stay in place for months or years.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, the California Department of Corrections opened the public review process May 1, 2009, and had a year to hold hearings and comb through about 20,000 e-mails and letters on the proposed revisions.
This process however, has taken California one step closer to resuming executions.
- California unveils new lethal injection execution rules (Los Angeles Times)
- California Death Penalty under Harsh Spotlight (FindLaw)
- California Death Penalty an Empty Threat, Legal Experts Say (FindLaw)
- California Capital Punishment Laws (FindLaw)
- Constitutional Protections for Criminal Defendants (provided by Moran and Heim, P.C. , LLC)