The Law No One Likes: California’s Death Penalty

Like any other country, we have numerous controversial laws.  Abortion. Criminal sentencing. Employment discrimination. The list goes on.

The “public policy” justifications for or against these laws often make for intriguing discussions. If you like the idea of analyzing controversial laws, you may enjoy going to law school, since that is a big part of what one does.

Recently, the California Supreme Court issued a decision on another controversial law: the death penalty. California’s death penalty law is unusual, however, in that virtually no one likes it. Many people are opposed to the death penalty for various reasons – they may feel it is immoral, provides no meaningful deterrence, is applied in a discriminatory fashion, or objectionable for other reasons.

However, California’s death penalty law is disliked even by people who are in favor of the death penalty. The reason death penalty supporters dislike California’s death penalty law is that it virtually never is applied.  Even when a jury decides that a death penalty sentence is warranted, a defendant rarely gets executed – even for the most barbaric murders.

Instead, defendants sentenced to death typically live out their life in prison and ultimately die of natural causes.  This happens because the appeal process in death penalty cases takes so long that the defendants typically die before their death sentence is conclusively affirmed.

Recently, the California Supreme Court issued a ruling that, in theory, may expedite the application of the death penalty when a defendant is sentenced to it.  For more details, please read the LA Times article on the subject here.  Are you curious about other controversial laws?  Feel free to email me at and I will try to post an analysis here on ScoreItUp’s blog page!