"--IANS/EFE"
Washington, July 18 (IANS/EFE) A US federal judge has declared the death penalty in the state of California as unconstitutional.

The dysfunctional administration of California's death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution, US District Judge Cormac Carney said Thursday, according to Efe.

According to the Carney, delays have created a system in which arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed.

Of the more than 900 people sentenced to death in California since 1978, only 13 have been executed, Carney said.

With Wednesday's ruling, the judge overturned the death penalty against Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was convicted April 7, 1995, of the 1992 rape and murder of a 50-year-old accountant.

Allowing this system to continue to threaten Mr. Jones with the slight possibility of death, almost a generation after he was first sentenced, violated the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, Carney said.

Carney's decision may be appealed to the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ruling comes after another judge in California determined that the system of lethal injections needs to be revised because there exists a substantial risk that an inmate will experience extreme pain during the injection.

Lethal injection has been the object of heavy criticism in recent months after the complications that occurred during the execution of a prisoner in Oklahoma who died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes after receiving the supposedly almost instantly fatal injection.

--IANS/EFE

ab/vt


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