California debating over lethal injection protocol
Jan 24, 2016 10:23 AM EST
California advocates and opponents of capital punishment debated in a public hearing last Friday over the state's new lethal injection protocol proposed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The proposed protocol could lead to the resumption of executions after the state has not executed anyone in ten years.
California's new protocol for lethal injection would use one drug, barbiturate, to put prisoners to death. It would replace a previously employed three-drug cocktail that was deemed unconstitutional about ten years ago because of the possible pain it may cause for the condemned convicts.
The Vice President of the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys, Michele Hanisee, said in the informational hearing that the state has been remiss in its duties for almost a decade, according to Reuters. Hanisee said that the family members of the victims are dying before the murderers.
At the hearing in Sacramento, some religious activists opposed the new protocol for lethal injection. The activists called the punishment grisly and anti-democratic, while law and order advocates urged the new protocol adoption.
Days before the public hearing, legal and scientific experts warned that California's proposed lethal injection protocol was created without the transparency and public participation required by law, Indibay reported. The experts, joined by the voices of nearly 15,000 individuals who already weighed in against the new lethal injection proposal, said that the execution procedures will amount to human experimentation, with a high risk that something will go terribly wrong.
The opponents of the proposed protocol hope to place an initiative on the November ballot that would outlaw capital punishment, while the supporters back a different initiative on the ballot to speed up executions.
A group opposes the protocol, Death Penalty Focus, said that even though most people on death row have perpetrated grave crimes, they are still human beings.
A board member of the group, Linda Fox, even argued that there was no proof that using barbiturate to carry out a death sentence would not result in a botched or painful execution.
According to Death Penalty Information Center, California is the state with the most inmates on death row in the U.S. As of July 2015, the state had 746 death row inmates, followed by Florida with 400 and Texas with 265. Those on death row are more likely to die from either natural causes or suicide than from execution.
If the proposed protocol for lethal injection is adopted, California could begin executing 18 inmates on death row. However, legal challege to the execution protocol could drag on for years.