Fogel declares California lethal injection unconstitutional
Contradiction leads to outcry from anti-death
Photo courtesy Death
Penalty Information Center
By Elizabeth Daley, Bay City News Service
U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel declared California's
method of lethal injection unconstitutional Friday, but said the
procedure could be "fixed," prompting an outcry from
anti-death penalty activists.
Representatives of the Campaign to end the Death Penalty in Oakland
announced their plans to "step-up" their effort to eradicate
the death penalty, saying it is always a form of cruel and unusual
"The hearings that Judge Fogel conducted showed the serious
issues involved and the possibility of prisoners being conscious
during the painful procedure. But the bigger picture is that no
matter what the mix of chemicals, all executions are cruel and
unusual," said Crystal Bybee, campaign coordinator of the
California Campaign to end the Death Penalty.
Barbara Becnel, an advocate for Stanley Tookie Williams, watched
William's execution on Dec. 13 2005 and said the procedure which
she called a "torture murder," took over 35 minutes.
While many states and countries do not issue death sentences,
American death row inmates may be electrocuted, shot by a firing
squad, gassed, hung, or die by lethal injection.
Most states that employ the death penalty use lethal injection
as the primary method of execution, allowing other approved methods
if specifically requested.
Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D-San Jose) said she supported Fogel's
"Any method of execution that involves pain or the masking
of pain should be unconstitutional," said Lieber. "The
administration of California's death penalty needs reform, we
are seeing bipartisan support in Florida and other areas, to focus
on this issue."
Earlier this year Lieber introduced an assembly bill that would
have allowed voters to decide whether to establish a temporary
moratorium on executions in California.
Lieber's office reports a non-partisan state commission is currently
examining flaws in California's death penalty and is expected
to report their findings to the Legislature in late 2007.
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