Safety Checks on Capital Punishment

September 14, 2012

One of the worst fears in the criminal justice system is that a person would be wrongly put to death.

Consequently there are a series of safety checks on capital punishment in California.

One is that in a capital case, the jury must be the one to decide whether the defendant receives the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Second, the trial judge retains the power to overrule a jury’s decision for death and reduce the sentence to life without parole.

Finally, California law allows for a number of post-conviction reviews and appeals before a person would ever actually be put to death.

In spite of all these safeguards, however, there is always the danger that the jury and the system could get it wrong and the state could take the life of an innocent person.