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California Judge Rules The Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional

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In Carney's mind, the death penalty can't serve as a deterrent to crimes when the state administers the punishment to so few people. While 900 prisoners have been sentenced to die in California since 1978, only 13 have actually been executed, he noted in his opinion.

These delays have transformed the death penalty, "deliberately imposed" by juries, into a sentence "no rational jury or legislature could ever impose: life in prison, with the remote possibility of death," Carney writes. Therefore, the waiting-game the death penalty forces prisoners to play violates the Constitution's ban against cruel and unusual punishment. 

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