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A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that California's death penalty was unconstitutional due to length of time between when the sentence is given and when it is carried out.
U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney said the capital punishment in the state was "dysfunctional," due to the lengthy wait, making the sentence much more akin to "life in prison, with the remote possibility of death," the San Jose Mercury News reports.
"When an individual is condemned to death in California, the sentence carries with it an implicit promise from the state that it will actually be carried out," Carney said in his decision. But the reality is that rarely happens and so with the system beyond repair, the judge ruled the system be scrapped.
According to the Los Angeles Times, only 13 of 900 people sentenced since 1978 have actually been executed. Some states can nearly claim that amount only seven months into 2014.
The lawsuit was filed by death row inmate Ernest Dewayne Jones, who has been awaiting death for 19 years after being convicted of the rape and murder of his girlfriend's mother.
"The delay is systemic, and the state itself is to blame," Carney said. California has not actually executed anyone in nearly 10 years over other legal challenges.