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Judge Declares California's Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SANTA ANA, Calif.) -- California’s death penalty was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge Wednesday, who blamed the "dysfunctional administration" of the system for indefinite delays in executing death row inmates.

Judge Cormac J. Carney of the U.S. District Court concluded that these death sentences wind up being "life in prison, with the remote possibility of death."

Although more than 900 people have been sentenced to die in California since 1975, there have been just 13 executions.

While the ruling by Carney vacates the 1995 death sentence of Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was convicted of raping and murdering his girlfriend's mother, it doesn't bind other judges or other courts in the state to do the same.

According to the judge, the delay in execution amounts to a violation of "the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment."

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