Mary Kate DeLucco

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s revised lethal drug protocol was released this week, and it doesn’t address the problems that plagued its previous versions.

“It’s unfortunate the CDCR released a new lethal drug protocol that still contains so many flaws, and completely ignores the fact that these drugs are either banned or unavailable,” says Death Penalty Focus Community Outreach & Education Director David Crawford.

The revised single-drug protocol allows either pentobarbital or thiopental to be used in the execution. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has barred the importation of thiopental into the country, and the company that manufactures pentobarbital announced in 2011 that it could not be used in executions.

“This is an opportunity for Californians to take notice of the fact that drug companies have a broad enough perspective to refuse to have their products used to execute people held prisoner. They stand along with doctors and other medical professionals in declining to be a part of this process. The handwriting is on the wall; the death penalty is obsolete, it serves no purpose and is contrary to the mores of pharmaceutical companies and doctors,” says DPF board member, and death penalty attorney Robert M. Sanger.

California’s Office of Administrative Law rejected CDCR’s last proposed protocol in October, but with the passage of Proposition 66, which eliminated OAL’s role in regulating execution procedures, that injunction will probably be moot. However, a federal injunction issued in 2006 is still in place, and executions cannot resume unless that is lifted.

Death penalty opponents, meanwhile, will continue to fight the resumption of executions because of the “fallibility, cost and the fact that the death penalty is imposed disproportionately on people of color, the poor, the mentally disabled and people, who them-selves, were subject to abuse,” says Sanger. “It is time to end capital punishment and move on.”

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