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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

California Death Penalty: Cruel and Unusual

While we've all been glued to the television watching the news about Palestine and Israel, a federal judge in the central district of California ruled that California's death penalty is unconstitutional.

Judge Cormac J. Carney has ruled that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment. California has sentenced more than 900 people to the death penalty since 1978. Out of those 900, only 13 people have been executed. Almost 100 have died from other causes such as old age, illness, and suicide.

The court noted that these cases can take more than 25 years thanks to delays in the appellate process that stop the execution from occurring. The appellate delays aren't just on the part of the prisoners. Those delays are often caused by the state. A report by the California Commission on Fair Administration of Justice stated that the death penalty system was "plagued with excessive delay." None of the recommended solutions have been implemented by the system. Other delays occur due to a shortage of qualified counsel and a backup of cases. All state cases must exhaust state remedies before moving on to a federal appeal.

Judge Carney ruled that California's death penalty is a violation of Furman (which struck down death penalty sentencing that "created a substantial risk that it would be inflicted in an arbitrary and capricious manner." He also found that it no longer serves the purpose of capital punishment. 

Do you believe in the death penalty? Share your thoughts with us below. How do you see this ruling affecting the nation in the light of all of the "botched" executions that have also taken place within the last year?
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