Monday, November 19, 2012

Despite voters’ renewed support for death penalty, no California inmates are close to execution

Death House at San Quentin Prison
This year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Robert Fairbank’s appeal of his death sentence for the 1985 rape and murder of college student Wendy Cheek.

With that rejection, Fairbank joined at least 13 other death row inmates who have completed the decadeslong capital punishment appeals process and are eligible for execution.

Nonetheless, none of the 14 death row inmates who have “exhausted” their appeals will receive a lethal injection anytime soon — even though 53 percent of the California electorate reinforced its support of the death penalty with the rejection of Proposition 34 on Nov. 6.

Lawsuits in federal and state courts have halted executions since January 2006 and it will take months, maybe years, to resolve the litigation. Judges have ordered a halt to executions, and lawyers with the state’s Attorney General’s Office have promised not to pursue any executions until the cases are resolved.

Still, a growing number of prosecutors, law enforcement officials and capital punishment proponents are pushing for the quick resumption of execution, citing the defeat of Prop. 34 as a mandate from the voters.

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Sources: AP, San Francisco Examiner, November 19, 2012