California has long been a “symbolic death penalty state,” one of 12 that has capital punishment on the books but has not executed anyone in more than a decade. Prodded by voters and lawsuits, the most populous state may be easing back toward allowing executions, reports the Associated Press. Observers are split on how quickly they will resume, if at all. Corrections officials expect to meet a Wednesday deadline to submit revised lethal injection rules to state regulators. The California Supreme Court is expected to rule by August on challenges to a ballot initiative narrowly approved by voters in November that would speed executions by reducing the time allowed for appeals.
California could come close to resuming executions in the next year, said law Prof. Robert Weisberg of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center. California has by far the nation’s largest death row with nearly 750 inmates, about double that of second-place Florida. The state’s proposed lethal injection regulations are patterned after a single-drug process that already passed muster with the U.S. Supreme Court, Weisberg said. Corrections officials submitted the regulations only after they were forced to act by a judge’s ruling on behalf of crime victims angered at the state’s three-year delay. Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham University School of Law, said revisions to the state’s proposed regulations still don’t cure underlying problems that can lead to botched executions.