CA maxes out death row

california execution chamberLitigated to all but a halt, California’s system of capital punishment has backed up to crisis levels, filling death row to capacity and prompting an emergency proposal from Gov. Jerry Brown. Nine years after California’s last execution, the system’s near shutdown has become national and international news.

“Warning that there is little time to lose,” the Los Angeles Times reported, “Gov. Jerry Brown is asking the California Legislature for $3.2 million to open nearly 100 more cells for condemned men at San Quentin State Prison. The proposed expansion would take advantage of cells made available as the state releases low-level drug offenders and thieves under a new law voters approved last year.”

The law, on the ballot as Proposition 47, has made a significant impact on the California prison system already, dropping the number of felonies in state by some 40,000.

According to the Times, Brown’s bid was slated for a subcommittee hearing next month chaired by state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley.

“California is in a Catch-22 situation,” she said in a statement provided to the Times. “We are required by the courts to address prison overcrowding and we are required by law to provide certain minimum conditions for housing death penalty inmates. The Legislature can’t avoid its responsibilities in these areas, even though the courts are currently considering the constitutionality of the death penalty, and I hope will agree to end it.”

Court complications

The Golden State’s death row has become the country’s largest, as KCRW reported, thanks to the uncertainty created by the judiciary:

“The capital punishment system has been in limbo since a court invalidated the state’s three-drug lethal injection system nearly a decade ago. No new protocols have been developed. Meanwhile, another judge has questioned the constitutionality of California’s capital punishment system. That judge ruled last year that the appeals process here takes so long that executions have become random.”

In that case, decided last year, Judge Cormac J. Carney wrote that “the execution of a death sentence is so infrequent, and the delays preceding it so extraordinary, that the death penalty is deprived of any deterrent or retributive effect it might once have had. Such an outcome is antithetical to any civilized notion of just punishment.”

On appeal, the case would go before judges on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, considered the most liberal in the country.

A stubborn problem

For Brown, the ordeal was just the latest in a string of severe frustrations and challenges meted out by state and federal judges. Through his controversial policy of “realigning” inmates from state prison to county jail, Brown was able to meet court standards applied to a degree of overcrowding that was held unconstitutional.

As CalWatchdog.com previously reported, however, the passage of Prop. 47 made all the difference. By turning many felony drug possessions into a misdemeanors, and decreasing penalties and sentences for other crimes, Prop. 47 prevented the prison population from rising above the court-ordered cap.

California’s prisons and jails have been plagued with difficulties since the implementation of realignment, however. One result has been a “revolving door” effect, where inmates hit the streets before time served, commit subsequent crimes, then return to the system.

Although Brown has struggled to satisfy activists to his left on prison issues, the controversy surrounding California’s frozen capital punishment system has increased the likelihood that voters and officials simply will seek to scrap it altogether.

In a sign of California’s role as a national bellwether, widespread criticism of lethal injection drugs led the American Pharmacists Association officially to discourage members from providing those drugs, an announcement made this week at its annual meeting in San Diego. As lethal injection has lost its former cachet as a humane alternative to other methods of execution, the prospect of a replacement method in California has faded.

With Sacramento legislators in a hurry to fund Brown’s request, but shut down the state’s death row pileup, pressure likely will increase on the courts to release California from the obligation of keeping the system running at all.

14 comments

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  1. FlagladyRoberta
    FlagladyRoberta 1 April, 2015, 11:45

    Death penalty is not often issued, but when crimes so prescribe, then why not institute the penalty, rather than LIFE in prison?

    Reply this comment
    • Mr. Reasonable
      Mr. Reasonable 1 April, 2015, 14:38

      Flag Lady is right. Ca continues to violate its own laws, and the AG refuses to do her job. Seems the “Court of Public Opinion” has more power than the law, let alone the CONVICTION by a court of citizens, then the appeal, and another loss and confirmation of the prior conviction………….. All 708 of them.
      And now, the Governor wants .$3.2 MILLION TAXPAYER dollars to build another 100 cells. Give me a break!
      Hey Gov, we wouldn’t have “overcrowding” if you followed the law. 9 years now without following the law is enough. YOU have destroyed the fear of death by stalling, and NOT following the law. May I make a suggestion on lethal injection? FIRE the staff that can’t seem to make the “passionate” cocktail, and hire a vet to do the job. They can seem to put down a dog with NO PAIN….
      The PARTY in control in our legislature seems to have no spine, and pays more attention to a small portion of our populations whining, that having the guts to follow the law. As a taxpayer, I am angry that SO MUCH money is wasted on this, and yet every 2 years yet another school bond in on the ballot………..
      Get a clue folks, of the 708 on DEATH row, just how many do you really think is innocent especially after going through all the trials (usually paid for by the taxpayer) and appeals (again, paid by the taxpayer) let alone all the other costs of housing, medical & dental care, etc……….

      Please. Dump the politics and do the job you were elected to do.
      And this is follow our laws, NOT your personal advocacy………

      Last but not least. Execute 100 already on Death Row, and choose by which ones have on the Green Mile the longest.
      This cuts costs, and we don’t have to WASTE 3.2 Million Taxpayer Dollars on 100 more beds……………….

      100 Families who lost loved ones, have suffered for years, lost their mother, or father, or brother or sister, husband or wife, or left children without parents because of the actions of those 100 will thank you………………..

      Reply this comment
      • Donkey
        Donkey 1 April, 2015, 18:27

        Would it not be “reasonable ” for all accused and thus judged, to be afforded the same resources as the state has at its disposal when going to trial? Because it is clear to this citizen that by far most accused have little to none when facing the state. 🙂

        Reply this comment
        • Mr. Reasonable
          Mr. Reasonable 2 April, 2015, 11:09

          Mr. Donkey, don’t be an “ass” and stop being mule headed.
          Murderers commit a crime, that yielded a Death Penalty by their peers.
          A “Court Appointed” attorney is assigned, AT taxpayer expense to represent that person or persons in a trial.
          The crime that yielded the decision was the accused, and the convicted. We have the BEST process for fairness in the world, as rich or poor ARE given legal representation.

          If the person convicted happens to not have the financial means to hire the best representation, too bad.
          They should have thought about that before they committed the act.
          Yet, you Mr. Donkey, and me Mr. Reasonable are stuck with the bill, along with the rest of California’s population.
          I am tired of the politics that is wasting valuable resources when it is sorely needed elsewhere……. 🙁
          Commit the crime, do the time…….Even if permanent…..

          Reply this comment
          • Donkey
            Donkey 2 April, 2015, 22:30

            I’ll have to disagree with your redneck view of our justice system Mr. R for the fact that no citizen without inside connections can get justice in this state. Ashley MacDonald didn’t receive justice, nor did Kelly Thomas, nor did Doug Zerby, along with over 10,000 Americans that have been murdered by state officials since 9/11. The truth is that more Americans have been murdered by U.S. police than we have lost in both wars in the last 15 years.
            The “bill” we are stuck with is nothing compared to the real damage an out of control PIC has created by destroying the ability of over 40 million Americans from moving forward. If you were “reasonable” you would have the ability to understand that a nation our size should not have the number of prisoners we incarcerate. Perhaps you just don’t want to know. 🙂

        • Mr. Reasonable
          Mr. Reasonable 3 April, 2015, 10:03

          Donk – I guess we just have to agree to disagree………..
          While we have our problems, this is still the best country to live in.
          My point is, we have laws. An elected official put in office by some folks that should not have sharp objects, like a pen, should NOT be voting at all……………. I be done now………. Arf! 🙂

          Reply this comment
          • Donkey
            Donkey 3 April, 2015, 10:45

            I agree that we have laws Mr. R, but as Frank said,” they are badly written and randomly enforced.”
            Our country is awesome, but the system of public unions using tax payers dollars to elect their politicians is quickly turning many states in our country into totalitarian cabals where the tax paying citizen receives little in return, with the exception of escalating taxes to fund ever growing pensions and benefits for the RAGWUS feeders. 🙂

  2. Donkey
    Donkey 1 April, 2015, 18:20

    The Prison Industrial Complex is as incompetent as any RAGWUS run bureaucracy. Ideologues prance around with their belief that all the killers should be put down with extreme prejudice, having no thought about guilt or innocence of those being eliminated.
    Our justice system is an oxymoronic system, meaning it is as far from being just as any system in the middle east. The JS pits an individual against two state monopolies, the DA system and the codified costume clad police, both with unlimited time, money, and data resources to force upon or devise a scheme to ensnare any citizen a government sociopath deems its prey.
    With less than 5% of the worlds population the U.S. is fast approaching 30% of all prisoners on the planet. Not what one first thinks about when talking about the land of the free!!
    🙂

    Reply this comment
    • NTHEOC
      NTHEOC 1 April, 2015, 18:42

      Just when you thought Donkey couldn’t out do himself with another crazy comment, he comes through again!! Well donk, with freedom comes choice. People in this country have a choice and some make bad ones in life so yes we do lock up our criminals. I mean you love to compare our justice system to the Middle East but we do not condone the raping of women and explotation of children, or child labor sweatshops, or many other things that are legal in those countries. So I guess we should have more prisoners than others….

      Reply this comment
      • Mr. Reasonable
        Mr. Reasonable 2 April, 2015, 11:20

        Mr. D –
        “Having no thought about guilt or innocence o those being eliminated.” NOT!

        Tell that to the family whose mother and child was raped, and murdered………..

        Yes, I have thought about this a long time.
        It is politics at its worst.
        Seems to me that lots of politicians, state and fed, decide they are above the law, and make up stuff as they see fit.

        Seems to me, the idiot in the Whitehouse just released 22 coke and meth mfgs and dealers back into society with a stroke of the pen. These animals destroy our society by making this crap, and should not be out early “for good behavior.”
        they sell poison to our children, and destroy lives, and yes – ending up dead in many cases…………….

        Don’t even get me started on the guy with 4 DUI’s and they still let him drive – UNTIL he kills 3 kids in a crosswalk.
        Enforce the laws we have………….

        Reply this comment
        • Donkey
          Donkey 2 April, 2015, 22:39

          One point I agree with you on is the “politicians….make up stuff as they see fit.” Which makes me wonder how you reach the conclusion our system is just!
          Every bureaucracy does as they please in this nation without accountability, the very reason every bureaucracy stinks and the pay, benefits, and pensions for these RAGWUS feeders are so outrageous. 🙂

          Reply this comment
          • Donkey
            Donkey 3 April, 2015, 07:27

            Ntheoc, when you post words like “I guess” the whole picture of your GED education becomes clear. It is no wonder you have no ability to see the aggregate of what the RAGWUS is doing to the economy. I can now understand that no matter how well the picture is painted for you it is what you were told by the government union thug will be your response. Along with the fact that you have never worked in the private sector, how could a feeder even comprehend. 🙂

  3. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 4 April, 2015, 08:13

    Did you know that the US government, (“THE GOOD GUYS”) over the last 12 years, has KILLED (murdered) approx. 1.3 MILLION completely peaceful innocent human beings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen? And DID YOU KNOW that about 250,000 of these victims were CHILDREN? Yeah, that’s right you justice-seeking, death-penalty-loving morons, your ever-so-righteous government is a major mega KID KILLER!! How does that make you feel? Oh, you just don’t give a damn, cause it’s somewhere far away that you’ll never visit and there’s no oil and they were probably terrorists anyway….Kudos to California for starving the state death beast of even one more body. My life does NOT belong to the government and the damn government does not have any right to take it!

    Reply this comment
    • Donkey
      Donkey 5 April, 2015, 13:58

      Well at least without due process BG, but the lucid know that justice can not be attained in a system run by dishonest RAGWUS feeders at every level. 🙂

      Reply this comment

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