L.A. Times: Officials Should Reduce Death-Penalty Delays


Backers and opponents of capital punishment can agree that the ultimate penalty is neither swift nor sure, says the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. The average wait for execution for California death row inmates is 17.2 years, double the national figure. The Times cites its own article, summarized in Crime and Justice News, about U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Arthur Alarcon, who says that “woeful inefficiencies” might lead the U.S. Supreme Court to conclude that the delays are themselves “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Alarcon suggests transferring automatic review of death sentences from the California Supreme Court to state appeals courts, a requirement that the same attorneys represent inmates in state and federal habeas corpus proceedings, and federal funding for state courts “to enable them to honor their responsibility to ensure that death row inmates’ federal constitutional rights are fully protected.” As long as the death penalty exists, says the Times, officials “are obligated to make it work in a way that vindicates both the rights of death row inmates and the public’s expectation that appeals will not go on indefinitely.”

Link: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-counsel31aug31,0,3446201.story?coll=la-news

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