California Contemplate New Executions Method | Independent Newspapers Limited
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California Contemplate New Executions Method

Posted: Nov 6, 2015 at 10:33 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

California unveiled a new method for executing condemned prisoners Friday, proposing a single-drug lethal injection protocol that could restart capital punishment after a 10-year hiatus.

The proposal came as a result of a lawsuit filed against the state by crime victims. A settlement of the suit, brought by the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, required the state to devise a lethal injection method by this month.

Executions are not likely to resume immediately, however. Public vetting could take a year, and court challenges may follow. Voters next year also may see one or more ballot measures on the death penalty.

The single-drug protocol proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration would replace the former three-chemical method, struck down by a federal judge in 2006 who said it could cause inhumane suffering if one of the drugs failed to work.

The new protocol would require the injection drug to be selected on a “case-by-case basis, taking into account changing factors such as the availability of a supply of chemical.” The state would have the option of using one of four barbiturates: amobarbital, pentobarbital, secobarbital and thiopental.

Pro-death penalty forces had called for a single-drug protocol and saw the ability to substitute one drug for another as a bonus. Difficulty in obtaining drugs has led to the postponement of executions in other states.

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The barbiturate is to be administered in a 7.5-gram dose, via five syringes, through an intravenous line. As in the past, if the first course of the drug does not kill the inmate within 10 minutes, a second course would begin.

The inmate’s heart would be monitored by an electrocardiograph to determine death.

The proposed regulation allows for the warden to order as many as four rounds of drug infusions, delivered over 40 minutes. Only if an inmate is alive after that would the execution be stopped and medical assistance summoned.

As in the past, inmates may choose death by lethal gas instead of injection.

The proposed regulation estimates the cost of a single execution to be just under $187,000, with more than $97,000 of that expected to go to crowd control outside San Quentin State Prison, where executions take place.

Source: LA Times