Posts Tagged ‘california’


We receive a reply from the state of California

Think of California and we call to mind Hollywood and the film industry, Silicon Valley and major companies such as Microsoft and Google, cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, important universities such as Caltech, the home of surfing, and altogether a state which is a pace setter in the world and one which is much admired.  There have recently been some TV adverts in the UK promoting the state as an exciting place to visit.

But there is a dark side which is that the state is keen on the death penalty.  USA is the only country in the Americas to retain this penalty and California is one of the states which retains it in the Union.  The web site Death Penalty Information Center gives the statistics for those executed and on death row and explains that the county of Los Angeles has more prisoners on death row than any other county in the USA.  California has 741 inmates on death row (2015).

Last year there was an attempt to end it with something called Proposition 62 which failed.  Proposition 66 to retain it was successful.  So the state will continue to execute.

Amnesty is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances.  It is ineffective as a deterrent, mistakes – and there are many – cannot be undone and it is a barbaric and uncivilised practice.  Juries are less and less willing to convict if they know the defendant may be executed.  During the course of the debate about the propositions Amnesty members wrote in favour of 62 as part of the consultation process.  Anyone who has doubts about its use as a penalty should read Clive Stafford Smith’s book on the subject reviewed here.  Chapter after chapter reveals the unfair processes which lead to someone ending up on death row.  Poor defendants cannot afford proper counsel and failures in the trial can mean avenues of defence are ‘procedurally barred’ at an appeal.

Response

We have just received a reply from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (Motto: A Safer California through Correctional Excellence) in the state capital Sacramento with over 30 pages of material.  Essentially it contains detailed information of a bureaucratic nature concerning how the death penalty is to be administered.  There is something ghoulish about such a document and reading the fine grain of how someone is to be put to death.  There are pages and pages of details and we can only provide a short extract here.  Hannah Arendt’s phrase ‘the banality of evil’ springs to mind.   Here are some extracts:

inmates sentenced to death shall have the opportunity to elect to have the punishment imposed by lethal gas or lethal injection.  Upon being served with the warrant of execution, the inmate shall be served with CDCR Form 1801 – B (Rev 10/15), Service of Execution Warrant […]  subsection 3349

the inmate shall be notified of the opportunity to elect lethal gas or lethal injection and that, if the inmate does not choose either lethal gas or lethal injection within ten calendar days after being served with the execution warrant, the penalty of death shall be imposed by lethal injection.  […]

Infusion Control Room means the space allocated for the Lethal Injection Chemical preparation area and is the room designed to accommodated the Infusion Sub-Team designated members of the Intravenous Sub-Team, the Team Administrator Team Supervisor, designated members of the Record Keeping Sub-Team, San Quintin Litigation Coordinator  and one representative each from the Governor’s Office, the Inspector General Office and the Attorney Generals Office.  Subsection 3349

The Team Administrator shall ensure training on the lethal injection process is provided to each Lethal Injection Team member.

Ensure the inmate has a copy of the current California Code of Corrections, Title 15, Division 3, for review of general rules and procedures that shall be utilized during the days leading up to the date of execution.

The Lethal Injection Chemical selection shall be done on a case-by-case basis, taking into account changing factors such as the availability of a supply of chemical.  The San Quintin Warden shall make the selection in consultation with medical personnel and notify the CDCR Secretary of the selection.

Inform the inmate that he/she shall be executed by lethal injection, the Lethal Injection Chemical and amount to be used, and document this information on CDCR Form 1801-A (Rev. 10/15), Choice of Execution Method.

Refer the inmate to the Intravenous Sub-Team for a vein assessment to determine the size, location, and resilience of the veins.  The vein assessment shall identify the primary, backup, and alternate backup locations.  […]

[information] shall be used to determine if there is good reason to believe the inmate has become insane, pursuant to Penal Code Section 3701.  […]

Accommodations for the last meal shall be reasonable and not exceed a fifty dollar $50 limit.

Thus far, it has been 20 pages of material concerning the events leading up to the execution.  The document begins to become more gruesome when it starts to describe the actual execution process itself:

After the inmate is secured in the Lethal Injection Room, the Intravenous Sub-Team members shall […] inspect the restraints to ensure they do not restrict the inmate’s circulation or interfere with the insertion of the catheters. p22

#1 -60cc syringe containing the specified amount of the designated Lethal Injection Chemical shall be administered, followed by a consciousness assessment of the inmate; the Intravenous Sub-Team Member shall brush the back of his/her hand over the inmate’s eyelashes, and speak to and gently shake the inmate.  Observations shall be documented.  If the inmate is unresponsive, it will demonstrate that inmate is unconscious.  The process shall continue as follows:

#2 -60cc syringe containing the specified amount of the designated Lethal Injection Chemical shall be administered

[then syringe #3; #4; #5 then a saline flush] p23

If, following the administration of syringe #1 the assessment indicates the inmate is not unconscious, the Intravenous Sub-Team member shall check the catheter for patency.  After checking for patency, syringe #2 shall be administered followed by a second consciousness assessment of the inmate in the same manner [as described earlier] […]

Picture: Boston Magazine

In the event all six syringes from Tray A have been administered, the ten minutes countdown has elapsed and death has not been declared, the Record Keeping Sub-Team member shall advise the Team Supervisor, who will then advise the Team Administrator and the San Quentin Warden.  The San Quentin Warden shall direct the Lethal Injection Chemical administration process set forth in subsections (43) – (8) be repeated, but using the backup intravenous catheter and the six syringes from Tray B.  p24

This paragraph is then repeated and ends with the use of Tray C. It then goes on:

In the event of all six syringes from Tray C have been administered, the ten minutes countdown has elapsed and death has not been declared, the San Quentin Warden shall direct the Infusion Sub-Team to prepare a set of five addition syringes of Lethal Injection Chemical, each containing 1.5 grams of Lethal Injection Chemical.  The Lethal Injection Chemical shall be mixed according to the manufacture’s instructions.  A medically trained Infusion Sub-Team shall prepare the syringes.  A separate medically trained Infusion Sub-Team member or Intravenous Sub-Team member shall verify proper preparation of each syringe.  The Warden shall direct the Record keeping Sub-team member to initiate the ten minute countdown and the Infusion Sub-Team to administer a syringe containing 1.5 grams of the Lethal Injection Chemical in the alternate backup intravenous line, and wait for ten minutes.  If the inmate’s death has not been declared by the end of that ten-minute period, the San Quentin Warden shall direct the same process be followed until five syringes have been administered.  If at any time during this process the inmate is declared dead, the administration of Lethal Injection Chemical shall stop.

This paragraph is then repeated to say that if the inmate is still not dead after another ten minutes then the process is repeated.

In the event that all ten syringes of Lethal Injection Chemical referred to [in the document] have been administered, ten minutes have elapsed, and death has not been declared, the San Quentin Warden shall stop the execution and summon medical assistance for the inmate as set forth in subsection (d) p25

The meticulous detail and the amount of injections which might be necessary and the successive periods of waiting to see if he or she has died – to see it all methodically described and set out in laborious detail is decidedly chilling.


Read our latest death penalty report.  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook – salisburyai

Clive Stafford Smith is a member of Reprieve

 

 

 

 


The latest death penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.  Generally gloomy with several countries around the world reverting – or threatening to revert to – the penalty.

Death penalty report (Word)

No to the death penalty


Notice of extension received concerning administration of lethal injections in California

A previous urgent action was sent out concerning proposed changes to the California Code of Corrections concerning the use of lethal injections.  The date for responses has now passed but we have today received a message to say this has been extended to 15 May 2016.  Executions have been put on hold since 2006.

URGENT ACTION

Executions could resume if regulation adopted

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has launched a public consultation on its proposed new lethal injection protocol. The public has until 22 January (but see above) to submit comments on the regulation, the adoption of which would allow for the resumption of executions in the US state with the highest death row population.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) began a public consultation on 6 November on its new lethal injection protocol. Among other changes, the proposed new regulation introduces a single-drug lethal injection protocol which means that any one of four barbiturates listed in the regulations may be selected as the chemical to be used in the execution. It also establishes criteria for the selection, recruitment and training of lethal injection team members; and establishes procedures and timeframes for the movement and observation of prisoners once the execution warrant has been served.

Members of the public have until 22 January 2016 (see above – date extended to 15 May) to submit comments on the proposed new regulation, after which the CDCR will have the opportunity to amend its proposal.  Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.

California is the US state with the highest number of prisoners under sentence of death: 745 as of December 2015. The last execution was carried out in 2006 and the implementation of the death penalty has been on hold since then, as legal challenges on the state’s lethal injection procedures resulted in the invalidation of lethal injection procedures. In order to be able to resume executions, the California authorities need to put in place new operational regulations on executions.

Please write immediately in English or your own language:

ν    Urging the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to immediately halt its plans to adopt the new lethal injection regulation and work with other state authorities to abolish the death penalty;

ν    Urging the California authorities to establish an official moratorium on all executions as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty, in line with the international and national trend and five UN General Assembly resolutions adopted since 2007;

ν    Reminding them that the USA is among the minority of countries that still executes, and that there is no humane way to kill.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 15 MAY 2016 TO:

Chief, Regulation and Policy Management Branch

Timothy M. Lockwood

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – Regulation and Policy Management Branch

P.O. 942883 Sacramento, CA

94283-0001, USA

Fax: +1 916 324 6075

Email: LI.comments@cdcr.ca.gov

Salutation: Dear Mr. Lockwood

Governor of California

Edmund G. Brown Jr.

c/o State Capitol

Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA

95814, USA

Fax: +1 916 5583160

Email: governor@governor.ca.gov

Salutation: Dear Governor

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. 

HIS EXCELLENCY THE HONOURABLE MATTHEW BARZUN American Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 6AE, tel: 020 7499 9000.  Salutation: Your Excellency       Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

URGENT ACTION

Additional Information

In order to be able to resume executions, the authorities of California, USA, need to put in place new operational regulations on executions. To this aim, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) issued the notice of public consultation 15-10 on 6 November 2015, providing details of proposed changes to Section 3349 and the adoption of Sections 3349.1, 3349.2, 3349.3, 3349.4, 3349.5, 3349.6, 3349.7, 3349.8, and 3349.9 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 15, Crime Prevention and Corrections (hereafter, the proposed new regulation).

Executions in California have been on hold since 2006. Legal challenges resulted in the invalidation of previously adopted execution procedures and were followed by a referendum in 2012 seeking to abolish the death penalty in the state. In addition to this, challenges in the sourcing of substances to be used in executions by lethal injections led to a nationwide reduction in the number of executions and increased debates on the use of the death penalty.

The US Supreme Court overturned the USA’s death penalty laws in 1972, but upheld revised laws in 1976, in Gregg v. Georgia. In a dissent from a ruling on lethal injection on 29 June 2015, Justice Stephen Breyer argued that the time had come to revisit the constitutionality of the death penalty, given the evidence of its arbitrariness and unreliability.  Joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he wrote that:

Unlike 40 years ago, we now have plausible evidence of unreliability… In sum, there is significantly more research-based evidence today indicating that courts sentence to death individuals who may well be actually innocent or whose convictions (in the law’s view) do not warrant the death penalty’s application.

Since 1976, more than 140 wrongful convictions in capital cases have been uncovered in the USA, a period that has seen 1,414 executions.  Since 2007, five US states have abolished the death penalty and a further three have established official moratoriums on executions, including most recently Pennsylvania in February 2015.

Today, 140 countries are abolitionist in law or practice. In 2015 three more countries – Fiji, Madagascar and Suriname – abolished the death penalty for all crimes and Mongolia adopted a new Criminal Code that bans the use of the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment in the country. The USA is among the small minority of countries – ten on average – for which Amnesty International has recorded executions every year in the past five years.

 

 

 

 

UA: 287/15 Index: AMR 51/3065/2015 Issue Date: 14 December 2015

 

 


No to the death penaltyThe latest death penalty report is now available and thanks to group member Lesley for assembling it.  The full year summary has already been posted.  It has been a particularly difficult month with a rash of executions in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan has been active as well.  In earlier posts we have discussed the feeble response by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the execution of 47 individuals in Saudi recently and we have argued that the government is more concerned with arms sales than with the human rights in that country.

We have a small team which responds to urgent actions many of which are connected to the death penalty.  You are welcome to join us and we will forward you details and cases from time to time.

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