California Death Penalty Ruled Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled California’s death penalty unconstitutional Wednesday.  The court concluded that lengthy and unpredictable delays have resulted in an arbitrary and unfair capital punishment system.

This court decision is a victory.  The Death Penalty has been on-hold in the state of California since 2006 when a different federal judge ruled that the lethal injections used by the state violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

“Inordinate and unpredictable delay has resulted in a death penalty system in which very few of the hundreds of individuals sentenced to death have been, or even will be, executed by the State…”  The judge went on to say “arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed.”

While this decision is likely to be reviewed by higher courts this decision is a step in the right direction to defeat the death penalty for good.  The court’s rationale hinged on the over-crowded conditions of California’s prisons, conditions which have only gotten worse in recent decades with the passage of laws such as the California three strikes law.

Read the court’s ruling here: