Debate Rages Over CA Death Penalty

Death PenaltyObliged by a court settlement to figure out a new method of capital punishment, California officials have exacerbated the state’s protracted debate over executions by settling on a different kind of lethal injection.

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With a widespread shortage of execution drugs used in the now-familiar “cocktails,” officials have now aimed to “let corrections officials choose from four types of powerful barbiturates to execute prisoners,” according to KCRA Sacramento. “A choice would be made for each execution, depending on which drug is available. The single drug would replace the series of three drugs that were last used in 2006, when 76-year-old Clarence Ray Allen was executed for ordering a triple murder.”

“The plan to use barbiturates to execute inmates sentenced to die in the most populous U.S. state drew fire from religious activists, who called capital punishment grisly and anti-democratic at a hearing in Sacramento,” Reuters reported. “Law-and-order advocates urged its adoption.”

“If the new protocol is adopted by corrections officials and voters do not outlaw the death penalty next November, the state could theoretically begin executing 18 prisoners who have exhausted their appeals. Legal challenges to the lethal injection drug, however, could drag on for years.”

Opponents of the new plan insisted that it amounted to a trial-and-error approach. “The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California is suing to obtain at least 79,000 corrections department documents related to lethal injections,” KCRA noted. “It says the regulations may lack enough safeguards to prevent the state from using backdoor ways to obtain execution drugs that manufacturers never intended for that purpose.” Past cocktails have been harshly criticized for sometimes failing to execute inmates as quickly and painlessly as lethal injection was intended to do.

Languishing inmates

Much of the frustration around the issue stems from the unique backlog that has built up on the state’s Death Row. “It’s been 10 years since California executed its last death row inmate. Since then, the death row population has grown to 745,” KQED noted. “Since 1978, 117 death row inmates have died, the vast majority from natural causes and suicide.”

Although California’s Death Row has ballooned to an extraordinary size over the years, other states have found themselves burdened by court requirements in similar ways. Florida, second to California in the size of its death row population, recently faced a Supreme Court ruling that has thrown the status of its condemned inmates into question. “Death penalty prosecutions are stalled, and state lawmakers are hustling to write and pass a new death penalty law before their session ends in six weeks,” the New York Times reported. “Also in question is whether the 390 inmates awaiting execution in Florida will remain on death row or be resentenced to life in prison.” The predicament, which has gained the attention of reformers and activists across  the political spectrum, has contributed to the rise of execution reform as a hot-button issue around the country.

Divided opinion

California’s own controversy has strengthened amid a sharp divide in statewide public opinion over capital punishment. Voters, a new poll found, have “now equally divided between scrapping the death penalty altogether and speeding up the path to executing inmates on the nation’s largest death row,” according to the San Jose Mercury News. “The poll found that 47 percent of voters favor replacing the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole in California, up from 40 percent in 2014. But at the same time, the poll shows that 48 percent of registered voters would support proposals to accelerate the state’s notoriously slow system of resolving death penalty appeals to pick up the pace of executions.” Both those proposals were likely to wind up on this election year’s ballot in the form of initiatives.

Opinions have split even among Death Row inmates themselves. “Opinions vary, just like I’m sure they vary on the outside,” one inmate, Charles Crawford II, told KQED. “Some of us are against it, some of us not so much. Some of us, it’s like if they’re going to do it, do it and not have us sittin’ here for 20 or 30 years.”

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  1. We live in a state that is insane. We live in a state where it is okay to help people kill themselves or their unborn children. Thanks to Governor Moonbeam, we now have assisted suicide for the terminally ill, but not the ability for the terminally ill to access experimental drugs that might prolong their lives. On one hand, we have anti-death penalty people proclaiming that we might execute an innocent person so we shouldn’t execute anyone. On another hand, we have anti-death penalty people claiming that it is cruel and a modern, advanced society just doesn’t execute people. A great many of these same anti-death penalty people are progressive liberals and staunch defenders of abortion where truly innocent lives are ended. I have a suggestion for how to deal with those sitting in prison awaiting execution. Since life without parole is in effect a terminal illness, how about we allow those with life without parole sentences to be able to request and be given those same drugs, that our state has now sanctioned, that will be prescribe to the terminally ill to end their lives.

    • There is a major difference between an execution and a abortion. An execution is of somebody that has willfully and intentional gone and murdered people and is only used in exceptional cases. An abortion is of a fetus not a living child. That is why the court has said not after 22 weeks because after that time a fetus has a chance of surviving outside the womb. If you choose to belief that it is a child at insemination that is your right. It is not your right to force any one else to believe the same thing.

  2. Let’s start by executing the ACLU of Northern California! Then load Death Rowers onto a mothballed freighter, tow it 100 miles offshore and have target practice. I’m beginning to envy Russians more each day! They don’t put up with any of this horse —-. For proof, track down the street battle between Russians and muslim mobs!

  3. A .45cal, 230grain bullet to the base of the skull, is tried and true…..
    the science is settled!

  4. If the DNA evidence, witness information and confessions are in place and the condemed person is responsible let the deaths begin. Hillary can redub it pro-abortion. Meaning the heinous killer should have been aborted and thus can be relieved from living. We can harvest their organs just like they do with Planned Parenthood. We can name it Convict’s Donations where all viable body parts can be sold to the highest bidder. Now that is Democratic! When the rules can be bent to suit the purpose for the good of all.

  5. That is a great solution Garry. They can deliver it to their cell for them to take.

  6. Let us hang all of the death row prisoners, and then move onto the politicians that have kept them from being punished. Mr. Brown would be the first politcian for a necktie party, followed by SF DA that refused to prosecute the murderer of an unarmed SF policeman as a death penalty case, Ms Kamala Harris. Rope is cheap and we could probably get 500 hangings out of one rope.

  7. The people are restoring “Common Law” thee fraudulent office holders will be removed and replaced with Constitutional Representatives. Please study @ “Judge from Big Lake,Alaska. Also, The lies and web of deceit we have been told over the last several hundred years are huge.

  8. ““If the new protocol is adopted by corrections officials and voters do not outlaw the death penalty next November, …”

    If voters do not outlaw the death penalty????????
    It seems that the voters are repeatedly challenged to revisit and re-affirm this revomited challenge to a multiple election and California Supreme court validated policy. Death penalty opponents NEVER hear or respect any outcome but the one they seek, regardless of circumstance. But if they achieve their goal of a death penalty ban, they will demand it remain unchallenged and be respected as though chisled in stone for the ages.
    Hypocrasy by any means.
    Frankly, snap the criminals neck by rope, or burst the heart by firing squad. The state isn’t putting done a cherished family pet, so skip the T.L.C. .The condemned don’t rate it.

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