California’s Death Penalty Law Essay

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The Case against the Death Penalty


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The California’s death penalty has proved as one of the most controversial laws in the American history. The proponents of the death penalty law base their argument on the premise of saving lives and protecting the citizens from capital offenders. However, the case against the death penalty law seems to weigh more. The American Civil Liberties Union argues that the death penalty is unconstitutional, and that it violates the constitutional prohibition of cruel punishment, and contravenes the due process of law and equal protection. Other arguments against the death penalty are based on premises such as inadequate legal representation, lack of crime deterrence, racial biasness, high costs, and arbitrary application of the law.


Overview of California’s Death Penalty Law


            For a better debate on the appropriateness or the doom of California death penalty, it would be wise to review the death penalty debate. Capital punishment was authorized in California’s penal code in 1872, and in 1891, the California law would be amended to allow for executions within state prisons. In March 1893, Jose Gabriel was hanged at the San Quentin State Prison marking the first state execution. In August 1937, the gas chamber replaced hanging as the official method of execution. Since then, capital offenders would face the death penalty until February 1972 when the Legislature re-enacted the death penalty. The new statute allowed for evidence in mitigation whereby under certain circumstances the death penalty would be considered as a possible punishment for first degree murder. In 1977, the penal code is revised to incorporate the sentence of life imprisonment without parole. The new amendment would shift the punishment for extortion, kidnapping for ransom, and robbery from death to life without parole. The changes continued to take place; gas chamber is replaced with lethal injection in October 4 1994 (

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