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California Further Delays Lethal Injection Regulations

SACRAMENTO (AP) — California corrections officials are delaying their new lethal injection regulations by four months, officials announced Monday, pushing back this week’s deadline until late August.

The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation needs more time to update the proposed rules after an initial version was rejected by state regulators in December, spokeswoman Terry Thornton said.

The move drew immediate criticism from a legal foundation that sued to force the state to switch to a single drug to carry out the death penalty.

No inmates have been executed in California since 2006. The state now has nearly 750 condemned inmates, the nation’s largest death row by far.

Office of Administrative Law Director Debra Cornez granted the department’s request for a delay in a letter dated Friday but disclosed on Monday.

“The Department of Corrections works directly for the governor and as long as it’s going to be possible, the bureaucracy is going to do what it can do to prevent enforcement,” said Criminal Justice Legal Foundation president Michael Rushford. Gov. Jerry Brown has said he is personally opposed to capital punishment but will carry out the law.

Rushford said supporters of the death penalty are pinning their hopes on a ballot measure narrowly approved by voters in November that is designed to speed up executions by reducing the time allowed for appeals.

The same initiative, Proposition 66, would end the need for the department to receive approval from regulators. The California Supreme Court is expected to rule by August on challenges to the initiative.