The last execution in California took place nearly a decade ago, and family members of some murder victims say that’s unacceptable. Now a judge is aiding their fight to resume executions – saying those family members have a right to try to force the state to fix its system for delivering lethal injections to condemned inmates.
Three years ago, Gov, Jerry Brown ordered state officials to come up with a new protocol for carrying out executions. The governor acted after the courts found problems with the state’s three-drug lethal injection system – saying the execution method could cause extreme pain for those being put to death.
But attorneys for family members of victims argued in court that the state has been sitting on its hands. They said a lack of political will – not technological hurdles – has prevented the state from fixing its broken execution system. Sacramento County Superior Court Shellyanne Chang agreed – saying state law requires corrections officials to develop a way to execute condemned inmates. The state has not indicated if it will appeal.
California has previously said that it’s been hampered by difficulty in obtaining drugs for lethal injections. But other states have faced the same problem and have managed to get around it using alternative drugs.
Meanwhile, a federal judge said last year that long delays in executing condemned prisoners in California render the death penalty strictly arbitrary – and amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
There are more than 700 people on death row in California. The last person executed here was Clarence Ray Allen in 2006.