On Wednesday July 16th, 2014 California’s death penalty system was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney declared the system arbitrary and in violation of the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
“California’s death penalty system is so plagued by inordinate and unpredictable delay that the death sentence is actually carried out against only a trivial few of those sentenced to death,” Carney wrote. “For all practical purposes then, a sentence of death in California is a sentence of life imprisonment with the remote possibility of death — a sentence no rational legislature or jury could ever impose.”
Carney continued: “Inordinate and unpredictable delay… has resulted in a system in which arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed. And it has resulted in a system that serves no penological purpose. Such a system is unconstitutional.”
The order also eliminated the death sentence of petitioner Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1995.
Read Carney’s official order below: