California’s death penalty is unconsitutitonal, federal judge rules

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that California’s death penalty is unconstitutional, violating the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

The reason is because the majority of Death Row inmates are never actually executed and the dealth penalty has been “quietly transformed” into “life in prison, with the remote possibility of death,”  U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney wrote in his 29-page ruling.

“[T]he 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.

More than 900 have been convicted of the death penalty in the state since 1978, but only 13 have actually been executed.

The ruling also vacated Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was condemned to death in 1995 and brought the lawsuit against a San Quentin prison warden.

Hunter Schwarz covers the intersection of politics and pop culture for the Washington Post
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