Death Penalty halted by courts again
by Brian Leubitz
It’s been a long time since California actually executed anybody. 2006 to be precise, and we’ve only executed 13 people since 1976. Even if I were to support the death penalty, it is not hard to call this a broken system. We spend billions of dollars in legal challenges, extra security, suicide watch, etc, to keep these inmates alive long enough to kill them.
But the biggest reason that we haven’t executed anybody since 2006 is that we haven’t had approval from the courts. After federal courts struck down our lethal injection procedure in 2006, the case has been bouncing back and forth in both state and federal courts. The prison system released a new protocol two years ago. That didn’t turn out well, as we found out yesterday:
In a 28-page ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeal found that state prison officials failed to comply with administrative rules when crafting new regulations more than two years ago.
The appeals court upheld a Marin County judge, who faulted the prison department for a variety of procedural missteps, including offering no public explanation for why San Quentin officials opted to continue with a three-drug lethal injection method instead of a single-drug execution option being embraced by a number of other states. (Howard Mintz / BANG)
So, it is back to the drawing board for the prison system, as they’ll have to either appeal to the state Supreme Court or go through the process properly. Gov. Brown will ultimately have to make the call on the appeal, but certainly the question of how long we will have the death penalty is still open. Prop 34 to end it entirely only failed by 47-53 last year. It is not the toxic issue that it once was. With all the other spending priorities, does it really make sense to spend billions of dollars on a punishment that is simply not effective at reducing crime:
In my view deterrence plays no part whatsoever. Persons contemplating murder do not sit around the kitchen table and say I won’t commit this murder if I face the death penalty, but I will do it if the penalty is life without parole. I do not believe persons contemplating or committing murder plan to get caught or weigh the consequences. Statistics demonstrate that states without the death penalty have consistently lower murder rates than states with it, but frankly I think those statistics are immaterial and coincidental. Fear of the death penalty may cause a few to hesitate, but certainly not enough to keep it in force, and the truth is that there is no way of ever knowing whether or not the death penalty deters. (Judge H Lee Sarokin)