While California is home to the most death row inmates by nearly a factor of two, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, it has only had held 13 executions since 1976, ranking it 31st among states in per capita executions.
In July, a federal judge ruled the state’s punishment was cruel and unusual due to the amount of time it takes to be implemented.
“Inordinate and unpredictable delay has resulted in a death penalty system in which very few of the hundreds of individuals sentenced to death have been, or even will be, executed by the State,” Judge Cormac J. Carney wrote. “It has resulted in a system in which arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed. And it has resulted in a system that serves no penological purpose. Such a system is unconstitutional.”
Voters were split on how the state should proceed in response to the ruling. Forty percent said the death penalty should be replaced with life without parole, while 52 percent said executions should be sped up.