To those who support capital punishment, some of them prosecutors or crime victims, it’s a sign of what’s broken in California’s particular brand of criminal justice, and that long delay is likely what prompted 51 percent of voters to pass Proposition 66 in November.
The California Supreme Court’s decision upholding Proposition 66, the initiative to speed up the imposition of the death penalty, fails two basic requirements of good judicial rulings: It ignores the language of the law and it ignores reality.
California, which has nearly 750 inmates on the nation’s largest Death Row, last performed an execution in January 2006. If a federal judge finds the procedures constitutional, execution dates could be set within a year for 18 prisoners, including four from the Bay Area, whose final appeals of their death sentences have been rejected.
The California Supreme Court’s decision upholding a profoundly flawed 2016 initiative that promises to speed executions made clear how badly the death penalty twists and perverts the criminal justice system.
(Subscription required) In a mixed victory for death penalty supporters, the California Supreme Court held that Proposition 66, the initiative to “Mend, not end” the death penalty, is constitutional, but that its imposition of strict deadlines on death penalty appeals “must be deemed directive rather than mandatory.”
Arkansas recently became an international spectacle by executing four men in eight days, having planned to kill twice as many in a rush to lethally inject prisoners with an expiring supply of an increasingly scarce drug. Now it’s California’s turn to consider a wrongheaded scheme to speed up the death penalty.