Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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California Capital Punishment: Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

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Death Row, San Quentin Prison


It wouldn’t be an election year in the Golden State without at least one law-and-order candidate bemoaning the fact that “old age is the leading cause of death on California’s death row.”    

If the thought of justice delayed/justice denied sets you off, then you definitely don’t want to read this Associated Press account of California’s frustrations with implementing capital punishment.  

Among the highlights:     

— California added five more inmates to its death row this year, pushing its condemned population past 700 inmates. Florida is second, with 394 inmates on death row; Texas, in third, has 333.     

— It’s now four full years since California’s last execution — Clarence Ray Allen, on Jan. 17, 2006.     

— Allen’s execution was only the 13th in California in the nearly 25 years since the death penalty was allowed to resume.     

— There are have been more suicides on California’s death row than executions.     

The AP story also includes a poster boy for California’s penal absurdity: convicted killer and white supremacist Billy Joe Johnston.     

Last year, Johnson fought for a lethal-injection sentence and not life behind bars at Pelican Bay State Prison. Why? Johnson liked the idea of a larger cell he’d have entirely to himself, access to television, and the delay in meting out his punishment.     

Any chance of this becoming a campaign issues, or is California too embroiled in its financial woes to take notice of this mess?


Written by Bill Whalen

April 26, 2010 at 8:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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