Instead, those sentenced to death will be warehoused on death row for the rest of their lives in an overcrowded and dilapidated facility, with none of the rehabilitative services or other programs afforded the non-condemned. The psychological toll of being confined on death row for long periods of time has become so prevalent that it is commonly referred to as the “death row phenomenon.”
Justice White noted in Furman that where the “penalty is so infrequently imposed that the threat of execution is too attenuated to be of substantial service to criminal justice” it is unconstitutional. As he stated, when the death penalty “ceases realistically to further [the social ends it was deemed to serve] . . . its imposition would then be the pointless and needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes. A penalty with such negligible returns to the State would be patently excessive and cruel and unusual punishment violative of the Eighth Amendment.”
We have far surpassed this point in California.