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California Could Soon Resume Death Penalty Executions


Voters and lawsuits could push California to once again resume death penalty executions in a state that has not executed a prisoner since 2005.

By August, the California Supreme Court is expected to rule on challenges filed against Proposition 66, a ballot initiative that would reduce the amount of time allowed for death penalty appeals, according to The Associated Press.

Voters approved Proposition 66 in November, but on Dec. 20, the California Supreme Court stayed the initiative to review the "implementation of all provisions″ related to the law, according to KPCC.

California voters approved Proposition 66 by 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent, according to The New York Times.

California has 750 prisoners on death row, more than any other state and twice the number of Florida, AP reports.

The Golden State could pass another roadblock in the way of processing executions involving regulations related to lethal injections.

But corrections officials are expected to introduce new rules about lethal injections to clear any problems that were held beforehand regarding the matter.

Under the proposed rules, if the first batch of lethal injection does not kill the death penalty prisoner, executioners would then proceed to inject another four doses into the inmate, along with a countdown of 10 minutes per each injection.

If the death penalty prisoner is still breathing and alive after the five doses of lethal injection chemicals, then "the San Quentin Warden shall stop the execution and summon medical assistance for the inmate."

"It's a complicated process, and everything has to be going right, and it's so easy in a prison context for everything not to go right,″ said Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham University School of Law and an expert on death penalty lethal injections.

Despite voters passing Proposition 66, some question whether California voters will welcome a steady flow of executions.

Due to the large amount of prisoners on California's death row, Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, expects one or two executions a month without any drop in public support, according to the Sacramento Bee.

But Sacramento Bee opinion writer, Foon Rhee, said he isn't so sure.

"After executions resumed in 1992, we’ve had them at least two months apart. You can be sure that any plan for frequent executions would be met with legal challenges,″ he wrote on April 19. "And many Californians are ambivalent about the death penalty. The message from recent statewide measures seems to be: Keep capital punishment on the books, but don’t actually execute anyone.″

Sources: The Associated Press via Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Sacramento Bee, KPCC / Photo Credit: Zaldylmg/Flickr

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