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Judge says California death penalty violates US Constitution

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The cause of death is listed as 'lethal injection' on a copy of the death certificate of executed killer Manny Babbitt in this file photo taken January 12, 2005 on the steps of the California State building in San Francisco. On Wednesday, a U.S. District Court judge ruled the state's death penalty is unconstitutional, following a similar ruling in Northern California that has kept the death penalty on hold in California for years.

The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says punishment for a crime can't be cruel and unusual.

Yesterday, a federal judge in Orange County, California ruled that the state's death penalty violates that protection. For more on the decision we're joined by Laurie Levenson, professor of Law at Loyola Law School.

From U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney's ruling:

"Since 1978, when the current death penalty system was adopted by California voters, over 900 people have been sentenced to death for their crimes. Of them, only 13 have been executed. For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California's death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution. Indeed, for most, the systemic delay has made their execution so unlikely that the death sentence carefully and deliberately imposed by the jury has been quietly transformed into one no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death. As for the random few for whom execution does become a reality, they will have languished for so long on Death Row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary."


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