California promises new execution procedure
Photo courtesy Death
Penalty Information Center
By Jason Bennert, City News Service
January 16, 2007
California state prison officials said today that they would
present a new lethal injection procedure for a federal judge's
approval by May 15.
Executions in California have been effectively halted for the
better part of a year due to concerns by U.S. District Court Judge
Jeremy Fogel that the three-drug procedure, known as OP 770, potentially
violates the Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment''
because of the possibility that condemned inmates may feel excruciating
pain when two of the drugs are administered.
Last month Fogel issued
a ruling that definitively called California's current procedure
unconstitutional. However, Fogel left open the possibility that
a new procedure could be found constitutional.
"Lethal injection is broken, but it can be fixed,'' Fogel
wrote in his December ruling.
"The Defendants and the Governor's Office intend to review
and revise OP 770 and to correct deficiencies in the implementation
of the protocol. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that the
efforts are comprehensive and effective,'' according to the filing
by Senior Assistant Attorney General Dane Gillette.
Fogel issued his ruling in connection with the appeal of convicted
killer Michael Morales, who was just hours away from death last
February when Fogel effectively halted the executions in the state.
Morales was sentenced to death in 1983 for the 1981 rape and murder
of Lodi resident Terri Winchell.
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