Federal government says state death penalties are 'unconstitutional'
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/17/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
A federal judge ruled that California's death penalty is unconstitutional on July 16, claiming that the state's system is arbitrary, unfair, and cruel and unusual because of a lengthy process that leaves prisoners in the dark about their actual death row status.
A federal judge has called California's death penalty unconstitutional. Surprisingly though, this judge is a conservative republican, a party that has long opposed federal overreach into state rights.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Surprisingly the ruling came from U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney, a conservative Republican judge that had been appointed by former President George W. Bush.
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Cormac ruled on a case that was brought against the warden of San Quentin state prison by an inmate on death row. On his ruling, Carney said that the death penalty as an empty promise violates the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
"Inordinate and unpredictable delay has resulted in a death penalty system in which very few of the hundreds of individuals sentenced to death have been, or even will be, executed by the State," his ruling read.
Since the current death penalty system was adopted 35 years ago, more than 900 people have been sentenced to death, but only 13 have been executed he said.
"As for the random few for whom execution does become a reality, they will have languished for so long on Death Row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary," the judge stated.
Gil Garcetti, a former Los Angeles County district attorney and an anti-death penalty activist called the ruling "truly historic."
"It further proves that the death penalty is broken beyond repair," he said, calling for capital punishment to be replaced "with life in prison without the possibility of parole."
Matt Cherry, who is the executive director of Death Penalty Focus, a group that is anti-death penalty, said that the ruling sets a clear precedent.
"We think this is a very historic ruling. It's the first time that a federal court has found California's death penalty to be unconstitutional, and its also the first time that any court has found a state's death penalty to be unconstitutional because its arbitrary and unfair," he said.
"Our hope is that the state replaces the death penalty with life without parole and shuts down its death row," Cherry said. "Currently life without parole is the ultimate punishment in California, except for the death penalty."
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