Judge Calls California's Lethal-Injection Procedure 'Intolerable'

A federal judge in San Jose said that California's lethal injection procedure represents "an undue and unnecessary risk" of a violation of the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

"This is intolerable under the Constitution," U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel said. "The state's implementation of California's lethal injection protocol lacks both reliability and transparency."

Fogel said that "substantial questions" had been raised by the records of previous executions in the state and that the California Department of Corrections' "actions and failure to act have resulted in an undue and unnecessary risk of an 8th Amendment violation."

Fogel urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger "to take this opportunity to address seriously now, rather than later, the significant problems" with the state's lethal injection protocol and its implementation. Fogel referred to well-documented problems in the administration of the state prison system, revealed in a separate federal case in San Francisco dealing with prison healthcare issues.

Meanwhile, all executions in California are on hold. Details here from the Los Angeles Times, or read Judge Fogel's Memorandum of Intended Decision. (via Bashman)