Latest Proposal for Lethal Injections in California

By: Jeff Coy

Picture By: miss_millions on Flickr

Wall Street Journal Law Blog tweeted an article Friday about the state of California proposing a new procedure for lethal injection. California Governor, Jerry Brown’s administration came up with a new protocol for carrying out lethal injections. This would involve a single-drug method replacing the three-drug procedure rejected by a federal court in 2006.

Reports from the Los Angeles Times say the administration’s proposal is a result of a lawsuit filed against California from past victims. The case brought a settlement from the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation requiring the state to create a new method for such executions. A federal judge said the original procedure could cause inhumane suffering if any of the three drugs fail to work. The reports also say the new proposal requires the drug to be selected on a case-by-case basis. Factors would need to be taken into account such as the availability of a chemical supply. The state of California would have the option of using amobarbital, pentobarbital, secobarbital, or thiopental.

California has the most death row inmates in the US, currently having more then 740. The state hasn’t had any executions since 2006. According to an article on, 1,264 people have been executed in America since 1976. California’s current death row population is nearly 59% of the amount of US inmates put down in the last 39 years. This clearly shows how overpopulated these prisons are getting. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, California only put 13 inmates to death between 1992 to 2006. No wonder the state is trying to push so hard for these lethal injections. However, the release of the new regulations doesn’t mean any executions will take place in California in the near future.

The new protocol is required to go through a public-comment administrative process, which is likely to take months or even longer. Voters can still reject the state’s death penalty through proposed ballot measures.

Legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, Kent Scheidegger said in a statement: “The announcement of a court-approved execution protocol after nine years of delay is a major victory for the majority of Californians who support the death penalty and particularly for families of murder victims who have been waiting for justice.”

The Foundation sued on the behalf of two people whose family members have been murdered. The law suit claimed the relatives of the victims were denied justice by California’s failure to have an execution process that meet the standards of the 2006 federal court ruling.

This debate is always a touchy subject as many are opposed to lethal injections. Many medical professionals have refused to participate in such study or procedure as it goes against many ethical issues of preventing harm. A few states have had troubles keeping up with so many inmates while others feel the need to lower non-violent prison sentences. This would be to have more prison space and help others not charged with violent crimes. These prisoners live off of tax payers and will never be able to contribute to society as seen by many. It’s hard not to get caught up into ethical reasoning when dealing with such issue. However, it seems clear of what the state of California wants to do about their high death row inmate population.


Wall Street Journal Law Blog

Death Penalty Information Center (*A link to the protocol).


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