One our way to the bay we always pass San Quentin State Prison. Over my years of working I've seen lots of men sentenced to death row. I always wave when I go by. The name that most will remember is Scott Peterson. California will just not execute those folks on death row. Well rarely in any event. The horrible crimes they have committed and been convicted of doesn't seem to come into play here. The term cruel and unusual punishment is a favorite term for the lawyers defending these death row inmates.
Here's more on San Quentin's track record:
All executions in California must occur at San Quentin. The methods for execution at San Quentin have changed over time. Between 1893 and 1937, 215 people were executed at San Quentin by hanging, after which 196 prisoners died in the gas chamber. In 1995, the use of gas for execution was ruled "cruel and unusual punishment," which led to executions inside the gas chamber by lethal injection. Between 1996 and 2006, 11 people were executed at San Quentin by lethal injection.
In April 2007, staff of the California Legislative Analyst's Office discovered that a new execution chamber was being built at San Quentin; legislators subsequently "accuse[d] the governor of hiding the project from the Legislature and the public" and a single viewing area; the facility that was being built included an injection chamber of 230 square feet (21 m2) and three viewing areas for family, victim, and press. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped construction of the facility the next week. The Legislature later approved $180,000 to finish the project, and the facility was completed. The old lethal injection facility had included an injection room of 43 square feet (4.0 m)
In addition to State executions, two federal executions have taken place at San Quentin as well, both in December 1948. Over the course of two days, three inmates under federal death sentences for murder were executed in the gas chamber. Samuel Richard Shockley and Miran Edgar Thompson died on the 3rd. Carlos Romero Ochoa died on the 10th. Source: Wikipedia