Californians could soon see the resumption of the death penalty in their state. A recent decision from the United States Supreme Court has opened doors for California to resume its efforts to relaunch the death penalty in the state. The ruling, from a case in Oklahoma, reinforced each state’s ability to use lethal injection as a humane method of execution. While the execution of death row criminals will not resume immediately in California, state officials have promised to propose a new lethal injection method within 120 days of the Supreme Court’s decision.
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday, June 29th, to uphold Oklahoma’s use of a three-drug lethal injection method and decided that execution methods do not need to be completely painless. The ruling came from an Oklahoma case over the drug midazolam, the first in a three-part lethal injection procedure. In late 2014, inmate Clayton Lockett was involved in a botched execution after he awoke in the middle of the procedure after he had already been given midazolam and should not have been able to come to. Opponents of the death penalty in Oklahoma argued that the three-part lethal injection process left room for pain and did not provide a humane execution. The Court, however, ruled in favor of execution, arguing that “Holding that the Eighth Amendment demands the elimination of essentially all risk of pain would effectively outlaw the death penalty altogether.”
Now, California officials have said that within 120 days they will have a proposal ready for a single drug execution policy. Where three-drug methods faced legal issues in the past, a single drug method would be much safer, and difficult for opponents to argue against. Once officials unveil the single-drug procedure, expected to be a single dose of a fatal sedative, they will still face year-long administrative procedures and hearings. Opponents of the death penalty in California point to many past efforts to reinstate the death penalty that was shot down due to failure to comply with state administrative rules as a sign that this new proposal could still be denied. If this new proposal does end up passing, the next hurdle will be finding pharmaceutical suppliers to supply the drugs to prisons.
If you are facing criminal charges in California, having the help of a qualified Bay Area criminal defense attorney can be invaluable. The qualified attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas Nicholas Cvietkovich are available to assist you.