Jul 18 2014
An unprecedented ruling by US District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney that California’s death penalty violates the US constitution is being heralded by anti-death penalty advocates around the nation.
The recent ruling, which may offer hope to California’s 748 prisoners currently sitting on death row, was the result of a case filed by San Quentin State Prison death row inmate Ernest Dewayne Jones who has been awaiting his execution since 1995 when he was sentenced for the rape and murder of his girlfriend’s mother.
Carney called the called the State’s execution system to be “completely dysfunctional” and ruled that subjecting prisoners to lengthy and “arbitrary” delays violates the Constitution’s 8th Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Despite the fact that California has the largest number of prisoners on death row with more than 900 people sentenced since 1978, only 13 people have actually been executed. A moratorium was placed on California executions in 2006 when a federal judge ruled that the State’s executions using a 3 drug lethal injection was cruel and unusual punishment.
The current ruling may allow death row inmates in other States to appeal their decisions. Meanwhile, California State Attorney General Kamala Harris is reviewing the decision and may possibly decide to appeal to the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals possibly clearing the way for a US Supreme Court case.
GUESTS: Gil Garcetti, former two-term LA County District Attorney (and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s father), Elisabeth A. Semel, the director of the death penalty clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, law school
Visit www.safecalifornia.org for more information.