Lethal injection is the execution of prisoners accused of committing serious and heinous crimes such as murder or rape through administering one or more chemicals to cause death. This method was approved in California in 1993 to permit the prisoners to select between lethal gas or lethal injection as the punishment technique (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)). San Quentin State Prison established the rules to administer this form of punishment based on guidelines from other jurisdictions. In 1996, California Penal Code stipulated that if individuals cannot choose the execution method, they should take lethal injection as the default method. On 23rd February 1996, William Bonin, a serial killer, became the first to be murdered by lethal injection (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation).
Challenges to Lethal Injection and Death Penalty
Lethal injection as a method of execution has encountered various challenges. The deficits faced earlier were that the technique lacked proper record keeping and inconsistent screening of the executed team members (CDCR). The punishment team also used improper mixing and preparation of the reagents such as sodium thiopental. The facilities that were used for the execution were poorly designed, overcrowded, and had poor lighting. The California Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972, as it found it to be cruel and a human right violation under California’s Constitution (CDCR). It reverted the been sentencing of about 107 prisoners from the death penalty to life imprisonment and a possibility of parole (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation).
Proposition 62 and Proposition 66 and their Significance on the Ballot
Proposition 62 was a ballot proposition in California in 2016 that intended to substitute the death punishment with life imprisonment without parole. In California, Proposition 66 was on the ballot and approved by the voters in 2016 (CDCR). It pursued to maintain the death penalty, and it required many petitions to be filled in court that levied the legal challenges and its time limits. It also reviewed the process of making the attorneys represent the convicted prisoners.
Current Legal Challenges to the Death Penalty and State of Death Penalty
Current Legal Challenges to the Death Penalty
Even though reforms have been done to improve the death execution, it still faces challenges. The judiciary system even blocks its enforcement to the convicted inmates. In 2014, U.S. District Court Central District of California maintained a firm statement that California’s death penalty dishonored the Eighth Amendment (CDCR). The Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of excessive bail, fines, or cruel punishment on the accused convicts. This amendment thus challenges the conviction by death sentence to be violating the right of the accused to life.
State of the Death Penalty Under the State Governor
The State Governor Gavin Newsom had a criticism of the death punishment executed in California State. Under Executive Order N-09-19, he specified that the California death verdict was unfair to the offenders (CDCR). He emphasized the state’s responsibility to ensure equity injustice to all people regardless of their race, mental ability, and economic status. The state governor also stressed that since 1978, California had spent a lot of money to execute people. He also added that the death sentence has led to the killing of some innocent people (CDCR). The governor insisted he would not oversee the execution of the death penalty under his term. His appeal also emphasized the instant closing of the execution compartment at San Quentin State Prison. The order did not provide the freeing of any prison inmate or otherwise influence the sentence that the prisoner faced. Gavin Newsom only aimed at protecting the rights of the accused against the use of death sentences upon them.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). “History of Capital Punishment in California – Capital Punishment.” Capital Punishment, 2019.