U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney of Santa Ana declared California’s death penalty unconstitutional Wednesday, saying delays of 25 years or more in deciding appeals and carrying out occasional executions have created an arbitrary and irrational system that serves no legitimate purpose, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The ruling by was limited to a single case and had no immediate impact on executions statewide, which have been halted by federal courts since 2006 because of multiple problems in lethal injection procedures.
But if upheld on appeal, the decision would end a California capital punishment system that has been approved by the voters three times – in 1972, 1978 and 2012, when an initiative to abolish the death penalty lost by 4 percentage points. Despite voter sentiment, the death penalty in California has rarely been implemented in recent decades.
This ruling will surely perturb Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, who served as the Executive Director of the Rose Bird Recall Alliance. Rackauckas took a nine-month leave of absence in order to lead the Rose Bird recall drive.
Bird was accused of not enforcing the death penalty and being soft on crime. She also was accused of failing to protect Prop. 13. You can read more about her career and recall here.
In 2009, Supervisor John Moorlach’s Chief of Staff, Mario Mainero, challenged O.C. District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on the ridiculous cost of prosecuting death penalty cases. Apparently T-Rack was blowing as much as one million dollars a year on such cases back then, according to the Orange Juice Blog.
Who needs a death penalty? Put the bad guys in general population and the inmates will take care of business. How long would Charlie Manson last under such circumstances? Hours perhaps.
Out of 18 states that have abolished the death penalty, he said, six – Maryland, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Illinois and Connecticut – have done so since 2007, all after long periods with few executions, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.