It was supposed to be a dry public hearing on technical aspects of how lethal injection is administered to condemned inmates, but anti-death penalty groups galvanized hundreds of their supporters to bein Sacramento yesterday for an emotional, day-long debate on whether capital punishment should be abolished, reports the Sacramento Bee. It was a one-sided debate: By the time the scheduled 3 p.m. close of the hearing arrived, nearly 100 people had spoken – only two in favor of the death penalty – and the hearing was extended two hours because so many more people wanted to talk.
The session’s purpose was simply to allow comment on new lethal injections guidelines drafted by the state to fend off legal challenges that have kept the death panelty on hold in California since 2006. The state now has until May 2010 to submit them to a federal judge in San Jose for approval, which likely will be followed by further legal challenges. Supporters of the death penalty yesterday called the legal challenges “frivolous” and urged a resumption of executions.