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Legal experts make case for whether California could resume executions by next year




The Texas death chamber in Huntsville, TX, June 23, 2000 where Texas death row inmate Gary Graham was put to death by lethal injection on June 22, 2000.
The Texas death chamber in Huntsville, TX, June 23, 2000 where Texas death row inmate Gary Graham was put to death by lethal injection on June 22, 2000.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

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The year 2006 was the last time the state of California executed an inmate condemned to death by lethal injection.

Today, there are more than 700 men on California’s death row waiting to see what happens as the state continues to try and figure out the future of its defunct death penalty system.

On Wednesday, California corrections officials are expected to submit updated guidelines for lethal injection use that are based on a one-drug policy that the U.S. Supreme Court has already approved in what many see as the first step on the road to resuming executions in California as early as next year. This comes after a previous attempt to revise the rules in December of last year was rejected by the state. Since the moratorium on executions was called for in 2006, one of the major issues keeping them from resuming has been finding a drug or combination of drugs that is effective but doesn’t subject the inmate to cruel and unusual punishment. Some legal experts are concerned that even the revised guidelines won’t do enough to prevent botched executions.

California’s Supreme Court is expected to rule over the summer on challenges to Prop 66, the ballot measure that voters passed which would reform the state’s death penalty system by reducing the time allowed for appeals and widening the pool of lawyers available to take death penalty cases.

Do you think California will be able to resume executions by next year? Why or why not? What do we know about the status of the legal challenges to Prop 66? Could executions resume even if Prop 66 is rejected completely?

Guests:

Robert Weisberg, professor of law at Stanford University and faculty co-director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center

Justin Brooks, project director at the California Innocence Project and professor of law at California Western School of Law in San Diego