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California says it won't resume executions this year


California corrections officials have put off until at least next year any attempt to resume executions among the 713 condemned inmates on death row, according to court documents.

The request by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to delay review of newly revised lethal-injection protocols until January at the earliest follows a decision last week by Gov. Jerry Brown to scrap plans to build a new death row facility at San Quentin State Prison.

The steps have stirred speculation among death-penalty opponents that California might be drawn into the national trend away from seeking new executions.

The most recent postponement was due to San Quentin warden Michael Martel's decision to replace the execution team that had been assembled and trained last year. That team had been ready to carry out executions last September. Corrections officials have declined to say why Martel is assembling a new execution team.

The internal corrections department revisions were disclosed during a meeting of the department's lawyers last week with U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel. The San Jose judge overseeing a federal case that has halted executions for the last five years expressed frustration with the protracted process and concern that the public doesn't understand why it has taken so long to correct flaws in the execution procedures.

UC Santa Cruz professor Craig Haney, who opposes capital punishment and has tracked public attitudes on the death penalty for 30 years, said Brown's decision to scuttle new death row construction to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and the corrections department's slowing down of its efforts to resume executions are "examples of the increasing signs that the death penalty's days are numbered in the United States."

"I can't say that it will be next week or next month or next year, but the trends have now become too unmistakably clear to ignore," Haney said, adding that he doubted Brown has any "grand design" to commute California death sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole but that the governor might be on a path to preparing voters for an inevitable move to end them.

Fogel also asked lawyers for death row inmates who have exhausted their appeals whether they expected further delays due to concerns about the origin and effectiveness of the main drug used in lethal injection, sodium thiopental, which the state now imports because the sole U.S. manufacturer has ceased production. The attorneys said they hadn't yet formally challenged the state on the drug issue but indicated it might be part of their appeals strategy later.

An attorney for death row inmate Michael A. Morales, whose February 2006 execution was called off by Fogel over concerns that the former procedures could inflict unconstitutional pain, said the latest delays reflect a more cautious approach in the exercise of capital punishment by Brown's administration.

"It appears that the state is attempting to be diligent in their obligations under the law, which would be in stark departure from what was the case with Governor [Arnold] Schwarzenegger," said David Senior, one of Morales' attorneys.


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-- Carol J. Williams

 Photo: California's death row. Credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (44)

Oh right. Jerry Brown.

Rose Bird lives!!!

Let's put them in Osama's hideaway and let the SEALs have at them. One way to get this off the dime.

OUTRAGEOUS!!!! Justice is being denied to the families and victims by the state. These killers were sentenced to death by a jury of their peers. You think for a second that these killers thought about the "unconstitutional pain" that they caused their victims and families?

Use a bullet and firing squad or even a rope, I don't care. Carry out the death sentence's of these 700 or so convicted killers and THEN you can address the issue about "unconstitutional pain". Not before.

The state of California has the worst justice system in the country. If the citizens of this state do not want capital punishment then get rid of it, but I suspect most are not as liberal as stereotypes suggest, I am left leaning though, and would rather just kill these monsters in a timely manner. Stop sentencing people to a fate that never happens, waiting 20 + years is almost cruel to everyone involved (although who really cares if the murderer had a change of heart over the last two decades).

It's time justice is served!!!! after THAT then start with the inmates on death row!!! This state is a JOKE when it comes to sentencing criminals. HELL... LIFE in prison without parole means NOTHING anymore. Even illegals are allowed to run amuck here and no one is allowed to ferrit them out and deport them!!!

It’s time to get rid of executions (they are far far to costly to tax payers)
In its place you have a prison with closet size cells with a bed and toilet
No Windows
No Internet
No Newspapers
No Healthcare (You get sick or need a transplant? Too Bad)
One meal a day (baloney sandwiches)
You never get out to exercise
The cell is welded shut until you die!
You will save millions!
If the worthless Family Members, Catholic Church or Bleeding Heart Morons protest then let them pay for more privileges!

The guards get paid by the number of inmates they have.
If you have death row and go through with it, they need fewer prison guards.
This means that the taxpayers could pay less both for inmate upkeep as well as prison guard salaries. Unions are bowing over backward to keep these guys and gals alive....thus increasing the need for you and me to work hard and give them more tax money instead of being able to afford hamburgers for dinner.

and those who suffered under these criminals - to heck with them
Law abiding citizens who needs them, Governor Jerry Brown thinks....
we just need their money for our unions.

Am I the only one who thinks it strange that liberals are oaky with killing Osama by violating another nations sovereignty but they don't want to execute murderers and rapists here in America? Kind of daft don't you think?

Consider cases like the recently televised "48 hours" story, where three Arkansas teenagers convicted of murdering 8-year-old boys are now believed innocent due to absence of their DNA or any other evidence that they were present at the crime scene. One of them is on death row, and Arkansas D.A.'s office refuses to reopen the case, now being appealed at the state level.

Also the reason it's "taken so long to correct flaws in the execution procedures" is the people assigned to the procedure at every step are too civilized to carry it out. As a nation we're catching up with the many other countries that advanced beyond it long ago. Abolishment in the U.S. is not far down the road. When it happens the murder rate may go down instead of rising, as violent punishments breed more violence, and statistics prove capital punishment is not a deterrent. The violence is a force that feeds on itself.

Should California become a state that disregards what its' citizens want and abolishes capital punishment, then I will quit my job and move out of the state.

Capital punishment is a legitimate punishment for the horrendous crimes that some of these criminal commit.

If I can't carry a concealed weapon to protect myself and the state won't punish someone who might kill me, then I will leave.

You can't make BIG money of dead prisoners. Execute and the gravy train ends. Milking the taxpayers is what this is all about.

Wow, so at around 44,000 a year to house an inmate, we could save about 32 million by killing them. Why are we letting them live again?

This is outragous, these people on death row need to be dealt with in a more timely manner. If they were sentenced to death then that's what needs to be done. Why wait to make it more humane, they did'nt see to it that their victims were killed in such a manner. I'll provide the ammo if that's all that is needed.

I can't seem to figure out who am more tired of paying for........Murderers or illegal's??? Oh wait, I left out politicians.

What a bunch of malarky. Our ex attorney general is deliberately subverting the purpose and the intent of the law.

We need the prison space back at the very least.

This is very disappointing news!


This is very disgusting news!

Most people who commit murder have short life expectancies themselves, because of the lives they lead. Apparently the best way to beat those odds is to receive a death penalty and live on Death Row.

They won't resume. I didn't know they were even executing anyone. It only costs .50 for one bullet. Cheap, fast, painless.

Here we go again. It's Rose Bird all over again. Thank you Gov Moonbeam for letting your personal beliefs overshadow what the people have voted for.

when are the people in Calif going to get it,this is a union run state,the union does what is good for them,keeping these people alive makes money for the union and the union friends.the rights of the people,justice,what is right or wrong does not matter.all that matters is the UNION and their money that was yours.


Let me see, are we gonna spend a million dollars a year on a murderer for ten to fiften years? Or should we put them in a small drafty room until they die of boredom or whatever at $60-76K per year?

Do we wanna hire back a 10 school teachers or kill a piece of lowlife scum?

I'd rather the money go to improving our society rather than fullfilling the emotional needs of vengence addicts.

The families? Nothing, eases the pain of the loss of a loved one.

No surppise here. Brown and Harris are in charge now. Just like California is a sanctury state, the will of the voters will NOT be done by those that are supposed to be representing us.

I agree with all these comments. It's time to clean house. Prisoners, over paid guards and the liberal stupidity that keeps them all alive and pentioned. Vote these liberal pantywearing folks out of office. Calififornis is heading into 3rd would status.

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