Anti-death-penalty courts in California and the Ninth Circuit routinely misapply criminal law and the law of habeas corpus to prevent the execution of prisoners on death row. Combined with backlogs in those courts and the mandatory nine levels of review, which can turn into even more levels of review if multiple habeas petitions are permitted.
How bad is the situation? A recent AP story on a Death Row suicide gives useful data:
- 723 inmates on death row;
- Thirteen executed since 1978;
- Zero executed since 2006;
- 57 inmates have died of natural causes; and
- 20 inmates have committed suicide.
The disingenuous nature of the legal arguments against the death penalty is demonstrated in part by the fact that unnamed opponents are claiming the delays—almost entirely the work of death penalty opponents—are in themselves cruel and unusual punishment.