Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Is Capital Punishment Dead in California?

CNN reports that failure to carry out the death sentence of Michael Morales because "a federal judge...ordered licensed medical personnel to take part in the execution" and they had no takers, could effectively act the same as a legislative moratorium.

The judge who ordered "licensed medical personnel [to] play an active role" runs counter to the American Medical Association who opposes capital punishment on moral grounds and quite naturally, doctors are refusing to cooperate.

The ruling has "shifted the debate subtly to whether licensed medical personnel should play an active role in an execution." And of course, if doctors refuse, the debate could get real interesting. Almost reminds me of the old Soviet Union when soldiers refused to shoot protestors in front of their military tanks.
"This is an issue that is ultimately going to have to be resolved by the Supreme Court," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. "Because you're ultimately not likely ever going to have doctors in the execution chamber."
By refusing to participate, the death warrant expired at midnight yesterday. CNN reports that California has 650 death row inmates. Too little, too late, however, for Tookie Williams who was executed last December.

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