California has long been one of 12 states that accepts capital punishment but has not executed anyone in more than a decade.
However, in the face of public pressure and the plethora of demands, the country’s most populous state could now re-enable executions, though observers are divided over how fast they will resume this if they do.
Prison authorities are hoping to give state regulators a report on revised injecting regulations before Wednesday, again experiencing technical changes after the first test was rejected in December.
In the meantime, the California Supreme Court is expected to rule in August on appeals and initiatives that would streamline executions by reducing the time allowed for appeals.
Even so, this is a far cry from what is happening in Arkansas, which last week ran a run for the first time since 2005 after trying to run eight inmates this month in an unprecedented series of double executions. The courts have blocked three of them. Legal opinions have left at least one of them in doubt.
California could be close to resuming executions next year, said Professor Robert Weisberg, co-director of the Center for Criminal Justice at Stanford University, though others say there are still many variables and challenges to make a forecast.
California has the highest number of death row inmates in the country, far more than other states, with nearly 750 inmates, nearly twice Florida, the second-highest number of inmates in the United States.
The state’s proposed lethal injection regulations are designed according to a single-drug process that has already been cleared by the Supreme Court, Weisberg said.
Prison officials filed the regulations only after they were forced to act for the ruling of a judge, given on behalf of crime victims angry for the delay of three years. But regulations that replace the three-drug method are likely to be approved at some point, Weisberg added.
Deborah Denno, a professor at Fordham University Law School and a legal expert on lethal injections, was one who said recent reviews have not yet solved underlying problems that can lead to poorly executed executions.