California governor orders review of lethal injection protocol

California governor orders review of lethal injection protocol

[JURIST] California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger [official website] on Monday ordered [press release] his administration to "correct court-identified deficiencies in California's lethal injection protocol to ensure the death penalty procedure is constitutional." In a memorandum of intended decision [PDF text] issued last week, US District Judge Jeremy Fogel said that California's lethal injection [JURIST news archive] protocol creates "an undue and unnecessary risk" of cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment [text] of the US Constitution. Fogel set a 30-day deadline for the state to determine whether the lethal injection protocol would be modified.

Schwarzenegger said Monday that the state's legal affairs secretary will work with officials from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [official website] to:

  • Establish a screening process for selection of execution team members and periodic review process for execution team members.
  • Establish a comprehensive training program for all members of the execution team so all are familiar with the drugs being used, their preparation and the risks associated with the drugs.
  • Develop standardized record-keeping to ensure there are complete and reliable records of each execution.
  • Recommend how to improve the death penalty facility at San Quentin Prison to ensure that there is adequate equipment, lighting and space for the execution team members to perform their functions.
  • Identify the best experts in other states to advise CDCR on the lethal injection protocol and its implementation.
  • Meanwhile, Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe released a statement [text] Monday praising the California court decision. Europe's human rights watchdog also welcomed the suspension of executions in Florida [JURIST report], saying:

    Capital punishment in the United States of America is on its deathbed … It may take another couple of years, but the United States of America is on its way to join the rest of the civilized world where this inhuman and barbaric punishment has already been rejected. I have no doubt that this trend is welcomed by a lot of Americans who, given a proper choice, prefer just security to cruel revenge.

    The Los Angeles Times has more.