Friday, May 31, 2013

Executing a business plan?


Perhaps it’s time to outsource executions in California.

After all, a May 30th appellate court ruling shows the state doesn’t know how to do it.

Most Californians know capital punishment has been on hold since 2006, when 700 bad men on San Quentin’s Death Row got a free pass to think a little more about the last seconds of life of their victims. But, by 2008 after the U.S. Supreme Court sent shivers through prison cells by affirming lethal injections for executions, justice-minded folks figured executions might begin again in earnest.

Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Enter pizza deliveryman killer Mitchell Sims and a couple of his infamous buddies on Death Row. They filed suit, claiming a drug used in a three-drug execution injection -- Pancuronium bromide -- was, well, “painful,” and that the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation failed to followed state law in adopting required execution guidelines, which had gotten the blessing of Gov. Arnold himself.

A Northern California judge who heard the case ruled that Pancuronium bromide was all right for executions, but also slapped the state prisons people for violating legal requirements in adopting their lethal injection protocol.

The state appealed. (It is interesting that before appeal, killer Sims dropped the issue over Pancuronium bromide, obviously fearing that the appellate court would essentially codify the use of the disputed drug in executions.)

On May 30th, an appellate court upheld the judge’s decision, saying that the department of corrections screwed up in its adoption of lethal injection protocol. The court ordered the prison bureaucrats to follow state law in adopting new ones.

The ruling puts executions on hold for the foreseeable future.

While it didn’t say it, the appellate ruling points up the state’s utter incompetence in applying capital punishment, despite the costly, hygienically painted new “lethal injection” room at San Quentin. (Did any condemned criminals ask for a tour when it opened in 2010?)

It seems that in executions, private industry could do a better job.

Think of it. Some enterprising technology wizards could form a company, logically in conservative Orange County, attract law-and-order venture capitalists and take over state executions. Like any Silicon Valley startup, at some point they’d go public on Wall Street. (Ticker symbol KILL on NASDAQ?) They’d come up with an execution method as simple as clicking a mouse, as fast as posting on Facebook. They’d likely forswear the archaic three-drug method of lethal injections for the one-drug kind used in Arizona and Washington. Fearful of putting profits in jeopardy, they’d follow state law to the letter, unlike the state itself. Executions would resume, ending the free ride of Sims and his ilk who have cheated California out of its justice for decades. Parenthetically, the three murderers involved in his suit have seven victims between them, crimes committed in 1980 (more than 30 years ago!), 1983 and 1985.

Flights of fancy aside: lacking the turning over of the punishment portion of capital punishment to a company with the ticker symbol KILL, the department of corrections should:

1. Not appeal the appellate loss to the state Supreme Court (that would slow things up).

2. Spend its bureaucratic energy on promulgating lethal injection guidelines which follow the appellate decision to the legal letter.

3. Adopt a one-drug lethal injection for executions.

Do these things and it can begin using the sparkling clean execution room at San Quentin for the purpose intended.

Is that too much for the families of victims to expect?

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