Mary Kate DeLucco

California’s New Lethal Drug Protocol Rejected Again

San Francisco (October 9, 2017) – California’s Office of Administrative Law rejected the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation’s new lethal injection protocol today, finding it had many of the same problems that a previous proposal rejected by the OAL in December had. This protocol called for inmates to be executed by one of two drugs, or opt for the gas chamber.

This decision came after nearly two years of heated debate about the potential revival of lethal injection in California. In 2015, execution proponents sued to resume executions, while opponents have continuously pointed out problems with such proposals, such as an increased risk of torturous, “botched” executions and secret, potentially illegal drug deals between the state and unscrupulous suppliers. There has not been an execution in California since 2006 due to ongoing concerns over the constitutionality of the state’s executions methods.

Death Penalty Focus Director of Community Outreach and Education David Crawford said, “It’s not really surprising that this proposal was rejected. We’ve known all along that it was deeply problematic, and that it increased the risk of botched executions and secret drug deals like we’ve seen in other states.”

Proposition 66, which purported to speed up California’s death penalty process, and was passed by a slim majority California voters last November, called for the abolition of the OAL’s role in regulating execution procedures. But while the California Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to Prop 66 in August, it did agree to review a petition for a re-hearing, with a decision expected before November 22. If it grants the re-hearing, OAL’s rejection would stand for the time being.

“We’ll have to see what happens with Prop 66 and the courts. No one seriously thinks it will result in what was promised to voters. Given that the courts have already pointed out huge flaws, it’s entirely reasonable to make sure there aren’t other mistakes in such a poorly drafted proposal,” Crawford says.

If the state Supreme Court should deny the re-hearing, and Prop 66 is implemented, resulting in the removal of the OAL as a regulatory agency, death penalty attorney and DPF board member Robert M. Sanger says there are “potential legal challenges to the initiative’s changes to the state’s lethal injection protocols and how and by whom they’re reviewed, as well as its exemption of medical personnel from ethical compliance or sanctions by their licensing agencies.”



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