A Federal Court for the Central District of California has vacated the death sentence of Ernest Dewayne Jones and declared the California death penalty unconstitutional.
In its decision, after describing how remote the possibility of death is for Jones and about how dysfunctional the system there is, the Court wrote:
Allowing this system to continue to threaten Mr. Jones with the slight possibility of death, almost a generation after he was first sentenced, violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
In the 29-page order, the description there frequently mirrors what is happening in Kentucky. The American Bar Association report detailed flaws in the Kentucky system that no one has begun to address.
California has the largest population of death row inmates in the nation. The decision will certainly be appealed and opinions differ about whether or not this decision will stand. Nonetheless it highlights the arbitrary nature of the death sentencing process.
This action takes place as Kentucky lawmakers are paying more attention to the death penalty. The interim joint Judiciary Committee of the General Assembly plans to spend almost an entire meeting in August discussing the issue. More about that when the official announcement of the meeting is announced.
We hope readers will keep their State Senators and Representatives informed about dramatic developments like today’s decision regarding California so they can carefully consider whether a change in Kentucky’s policy of executing a few persons at great expense to the Commonwealth is wise.
To read the full decision of the Court, click here: Federal Court strikes down California death penalty.
Map: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation