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CA Supreme Court to consider the future of death penalty in the state

by AirTalk®

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A condemned inmate stands with handcuffs on as he preapres to be released from the exercise yard back to his cell at San Quentin State Prison's death row on August 15, 2016 in San Quentin, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The California Supreme Court is deciding the fate of the Prop 66 death-penalty measure in a Los Angeles hearing Tuesday.

The measure, which aims to speed up current and future executions in the state, was challenged by a lawsuit and blocked by California’s highest court in December last year. If the court upholds the will of the voters, as precedent suggests it might, it would likely mean resumed executions in California. For context, the state has the largest Death Row in the nation, with about 750 inmates, and our last execution was in 2006.

There’s concern that the five-year requirement would fundamentally alter the role of the high court, forcing it to give preference to capital cases. But it’s possible for the justices to reject certain provisions of Prop 66, like the five-year deadline, while upholding others, such as the curtailing of prisoners’ appeals.

On the eve of the hearing, we debate Prop 66. Should the Court uphold all the provisions in the death-penalty measure? Would that alter the function of the Court for years to come?


Michael Rushford, president and CEO of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, an organization advocating reduced rights for accused and convicted criminals

Elisabeth Semel, law professor and director of the death penalty clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law

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