The Daily Fix: California’s Executions Unconstitutional, Plane Shot Over Ukraine, and Yellowstone Drilling Threat
Since 1978, more than 900 people have been sentenced to death in California. Of those convicts, only 13 have been executed.
Most death row inmates wait many years for the ultimate punishment to be carried out. In a landmark ruling, a federal judge said Wednesday that making inmates go through delays and uncertainty is a violation of the Constitution, the Los Angeles Times reported.
U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney wrote in a decision in the case of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was sentenced to die for the rape and murder of his girlfriend's mother, that the "complete uncertainty as to when, or even whether" he would die violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
It’s not the first time California’s prisons have failed to meet the standards of the Eighth Amendment. In 2001, a federal class-action lawsuit brought by inmates alleged that the medical care in the system was so bad that it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, resulting in a settlement in which the state promised reform under federal oversight.
This week’s ruling only applies to Jones’ case, but it could become significant in other cases if it holds up on appeal. California Attorney General Kamala Harris is expected to ask for an appeals court review.
In other news...
- Another Malaysian Airlines Incident: A commercial jet with 295 people aboard was shot down over Ukraine on Thursday, and there is disagreement about who should take responsibility. A Ukrainian official says separatist rebels did it; the rebels say they didn’t. For now, the only known fact is that there were many presumed dead in the fiery wreckage. (via The Associated Press)
- Bridge and Tunnel: New York commuters may be breathing easier after a tentative agreement was reached to avert a strike by Long Island Rail Road workers. (via The New York Times)
- Endless Cycle of Violence: The bloody face-off between Palestinian rockets and Israeli air strikes continues, with both sides saying no truce is in sight. In fighting that broke out after three Israeli teens were killed last month, the Palestinian death toll stands at 229, and one Israeli civilian has been killed. Then a Palestinian youth was killed July 2 in a suspected revenge murder. (via Reuters)
- Wind-Fanned Wildfire: Almost 900 homes are threatened by nearly eight square miles of wildfires in Washington state. (via ABC News)
- Legitimately Wrong About Rape: Onetime GOP hopeful Todd Akin is defending the comments about legitimate rape that may have cost him a Senate seat in 2012. (via Mediaite)
- Drilling in Yellowstone: If he’s elected governor of Wyoming, Republican Taylor Haynes says every inch of the state could be opened up for drilling and mining, including Yellowstone National Park. (via Casper Star Tribune)
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