Issues with CA death penalty result from improper funding

In Opinion

Last year, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney ruled the death penalty in California unconstitutional, resulting on a temporary ban on capital punishment. His decision is up for review by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and, if turned back to the California Supreme court, another four years of waiting for a decision is to come.

Michael Laurence, a lawyer defending the ban, and Carney alleged that the death penalty is unconstitutional because of the length of time a prisoner must wait before being put to death. The average amount of time a prisoner spends on death row in California is 25 years because the judicial branch, among others, is underfunded. It only received 1.4 percent of the state’s budget for the 2015-2016 year. Of this small sliver of budget, the Court of Appeals gets 6.2 percent, according to the California State Budget.

The way to go about fixing the process for the death penalty is to talk about funding. If California could reallocate some funds from other sections of the budget, even if the budget was only to make an even 2 percent, it would help quite a bit.

A botched lethal injection occurred in 2006, causing the state to reevaluate the method of death. In 2007, it was decided in Morales v. Tilton that lethal injection was an issue because of “inconsistent and unreliable screening of execution team members; a lack of meaningful training, supervision and oversight of the execution team; inconsistent and unreliable record keeping; … and inadequate lighting, overcrowded conditions and poorly designed facilities in which the execution team must work.”

Executions are carried out through the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations, which is receiving 8.7 percent of State General Funding for the 2015-2016 year, according to the California State Budget. What this department needs is more appropriate funding to make up for the shortcomings of 2006.

California has not executed anyone on death row since 2006 because of the botched execution, which adds to the controversy surrounding the death penalty being considered a cruel and unusual punishment.

Methods of death include lethal injection, gas chamber, hanging, firing squad or the electric chair. From the perspective of a prisoner, all methods have their benefits and disadvantages.

Saying the death penalty is unconstitutional because specific areas of government are underfunded does not make sense. The state just has to figure out how it can get better facilities, better funding for lawyers and training for technicians scheduled to supervise executions.

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