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Public Testimony on the Lethal Injection Process

On June 30, 2009 the state of California held an open hearing to get public comment on the lethal injection process for administering the death penalty.  More than 100 people spoke against lethal injection and the death penalty.  They represented  religious communities, victims' families, prison wardens, falsely convicted people, and concerned citizens.  Below are a few of the comments.

Reverend Katherine Harrington

In 2004, Katherine Harrington's daughter was murdered.  She pleads to stop the cycle of violence.


Father George Horan

Father George Horan spoke on behalf of the California Conference of Bishops and all the chaplains in the county facilities in Los Angeles.

Dr. David Thompson

Dr. Thompson is a Presbyterian pastor and president of the Interfaith Service Bureau.


Beth Weinberger

Beth spoke on behalf of an Alameda County Jewish Renewal congregation.


Lyle Grosjean

Lyle Grosjean is a retired Episcopal Priest.


Alice Smith

Alice told how the death penalty hardly touches white, well-to-do people.  The poor and minorities are hit hard.

Barbara Bechnel

Ms. Bechnel was a witness to one of the California executions.


Natasha Minsker

Natasha Minsker is the death penalty policy director for the ACLU of Northern California.  

Terry McCaffery

Terry McCaffery spoke on behalf of California People of Faith Working Against the Death Penalty and Amnesty International.

Donna Larsen

She is the mother of a "factually-innocent" death row inmate.  She tells how the system has destroyed her life.


Hada Sirin

Ms. Sirin gave the viewpoint of a Buddhist.





A Short History of the Death Penalty

1972: The U.S. Supreme Court finds the death penalty unconstitutional because it is applied arbitrarily.

1976: The Supreme Court allows states to use the death penalty under greatly increased safeguards.

1977: The California legislature passes new death penalty laws.

1978: California voters pass an initiative that greatly expands the use of the death penalty.

1970 to 1980: England, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Canada, Mexico, and Australia end the use of the death penalty.

1990:  California has 400 people on death row.

1992: California carries out the first execution since 1976.

2006: California halts executions due to constitutional problems with the lethal injection process.

2009: California has 685 people on death row and has executed 13 people since 1976.

2009:  Governor Schwarzenegger budgets  $400 million dollars to build a larger death row facility.

2009: California district attorneys obtain death penalty verdicts for 25 more people.  

2009: California's annual cost for the death penalty exceeds $137 million.