Bill to change California's lethal injection procedure moves forward

A Senate bill that would change California's lethal injection procedure unanimously passed a committee vote today.

Senate Bill 1018, authored by Senator Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach), was passed by the Senate Public Safety Committee today.

"Capital punishment is the law in California. The de-facto moratorium imposed on it the last few years is unacceptable," said Harman. "I am very pleased to be joined by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this problem."

Under the text of the bill, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation would be required to develop and implement a one-drug lethal injection of an appropriate anesthetic. Supporters say such a move should eliminate concerns that lethal injection causes inmates to suffer.

Chairman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) noted the death penalty bill was supported by both Republicans and Democrats.

"Both proponents and opponents of the death penalty can agree on one thing," Leno remarked. "The death penalty should be administered humanely and painlessly."

In 2006, a federal judge in Morales v. Tilton found California's death penalty system created an unconstitutional risk of cruel and unusual punishment.

The judge also found that the state could remove any constitutional concerns by having the execution solely use an anesthetic.

Ohio recently changed its lethal injection method to a sole dosage of thiopental in response to litigation.

SB 1018 goes next to the Senate Appropriations committee. In support of the bill are the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation; Crime Victims United; the Klaas Kids Foundation; the Three Strikes Initiative; and Crime Victims Action Alliance.