California Senate Committee Passes Bill to Adopt One-Drug Lethal Injection

A bill that would change California's lethal injection procedure unanimously passed the Senate Public Safety Committee on April 20.  Senate Bill 1018, authored by Sen. Tom Harman, would require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to develop and implement a one-drug lethal injection process involving an appropriate anesthetic. California has had a de facto moratorium on executions since February 2006 when a federal judge held that the state's 3-drug lethal injection system constituted an "unconstitutional risk of cruel and unusual punishment."  California state courts have also ruled that changes to the execution method must go through a period of public notification and comment.  The state conducted public hearings and thousands of comments were submitted regarding a revised 3-drug protocol for executions.  That process is near completion, though court challenges are possible.

 ("Bill to change California's lethal injection procedure moves forward," KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, April 20, 2010).  In November 2009, Ohio became the first state to adopt a one-drug lethal injection protocol, and has carried out five executions using the new system. Darryl Durr was executed in Ohio on April 20 by the 1-drug method.  During the execution, he  raised his head and shoulders, and was seen to convulse spasmodically.  His attorneys had indicated he might have an allergic reaction to the anesthetic.  (Columbus Dispatch, Apr. 21, 2010). The state of Washington has also adopted the 1-drug method but has not had any executions since the adoption. See also Lethal Injection and Recent Legislative Activity.