On Thursday, a California state appeals court ruled that no further executions could take place in the state thanks to the lethal injection regulations, which the court said were improper. The state has not executed anyone since 2006, when a federal judge stated that the lethal injections applied by the state constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. The court said that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation didn’t tell the public about alternatives to the current three-drug lethal injection cocktail the state prefers. “A hearing is ‘on the merits’ and ‘meaningful’ only if the interested public has timely received all available information that is relevant to the proposed regulations, accurate, and as complete as reasonably possible,” the judge wrote.
The court added that the state never articulated why it preferred this formula for injections, or explained why it wouldn’t use other methods. This was a problem because some suggest that one of the three drugs used, pancuronium bromide, can create and mask pain by paralyzing inmates as executions take place.
The DOC responded that it had written back to almost 30,000 letters from the public, posted notices about the cocktail in California prisons, and held a hearing with 102 commenters. But the judge dismissed all that. “Affected people cannot be thought to have been heard … simply because large numbers of interested people were provided an opportunity to be heard,” Kline wrote. “The public participation contemplated by the [law] is not a numbers game.”
There are well over 700 prisoners on death row in California.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).