Maura Dolan, of the Los Angeles Times reports Federal judge rules California death penalty is unconstitutional, because "systemic delay creates an arbitrary system that serves no legitimate purpose and is therefore unconstitutional" because it "constitutes cruel and unusual punishment," said U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, in Orange county today.
The judge said that of the 900 people sentenced to death in California since 1978 only 13 have been executed.
“For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California’s death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution,” Carney wrote. ...
Carney, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, said the delays have created a “system in which arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed,” Carney said. ...
The “random few” who will be executed “will have languished for so long on Death Row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary,” Carney said.
“No rational person,” Carney wrote, “can question that the execution of an individual carries with it the solemn obligation of the government to ensure that the punishment is not arbitrarily imposed and that it furthers the interests of society.”
I've wondered why the research on Illinois' death penalty cases finding that almost a 1/4 were latter found to be incorrect, causing the governor to suspend them, didn't cause all the states to put a hold on death penalty cases. The idea that we know that some percentage of the people we are executing are innocent is distressing.