Another Death Penalty Setback — Lethal Injection Proposal Not Approved

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MARYSVILLE -- There is another setback for the death penalty in California. The new lethal injection protocol proposed by the California Department of Corrections was not approved. This comes after the California Supreme Court halted implementation of Proposition 66, the measure designed to speed up executions in California.

In November, California voters weighed in in favor of the death penalty, voting both to keep it via Proposition 62 and to speed up the executions process through Proposition 66.

Still, with this lethal injection news, Californians are in the same position as they were before the election with still no executions in sight for the 750 inmates on death row.

Since California passed two pro death penalty measures, Marysville mom Sandy Friend has been celebrating.

“Not a celebration in a way that’s vengeance, but celebrating that we’re finally going to get our justice,” said Friend.

She speaks of justice for her 7-year-old son Michael, who was raped and murdered in Yuba City by Robert Rhodes. He has been on Death Row for 17 years.

“It’s unimaginable and inexpressible to think of the things I have missed in his life,” said Friend.

In the last week, her joy over November’s victory has turned to disappointment -- first with the news that the California Supreme Court has halted implementation of Prop 66, and now that California’s proposed lethal injection protocol was not approved.

Despite the stay on Prop 66, approval of that lethal injection protocol could have allowed executions to resume in California after a more-than-decade-long moratorium.

The proposal would have allowed the warden of San Quentin State Penitentiary to choose between four powerful depressants known as barbiturates to carry out death sentences.

However, Wednesday the California Office of Administrative Law struck down the proposal for an unspecified procedural flaw saying in part:

"OAL disapproves this regulatory action for not meeting the standards set forth in Government Code section 11349.1 and the procedural requirements of the California Administrative Procedure Act.”

The OAL approves or disapproves proposals based on whether they comply with the rules set forth in the Administrative Procedure Act. They do not evaluate the content of the proposal.

“It’s very frustrating, and I am anxious to see that report and find out where the ball was dropped,” said Friend.

The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation is behind the push for both Prop 66 and the lethal injection protocol. The organization vows to push past these setbacks.

“We and the district attorneys are working to clear these barriers, opponents are going to fight tooth and nail, and we’re going to have to beat them,” said Michael Rushford, president and CEO of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.

In their notice of disapproval, the OAL also said within seven days they will issue a statement explaining exactly what procedure they say the California Department of Corrections did not follow.

At that point the Department of Corrections will have 120 days to address the issue and resubmit it for approval.

“I have faith they will fix whatever was holding it up,” said Friend.