Monday, January 16, 2006

Die already

LA Times - Ailing Inmate Is Set to Die:
76-year-old murderer Clarence Ray Allen will be executed by lethal injection early Tuesday at San Quentin State Prison. . . . In prison [for murder], he offered $25,000 to fellow inmate Billy Ray Hamilton to kill people who had testified against him in the Kitts murder trial. After he was paroled, Hamilton killed one of the witnesses and two bystanders. . . . The inmate's lawyers said it would violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment to take the life of a man who is so old and ailing. Allen, whose birthday is today, had a heart attack in September, is legally blind, has diabetes and uses a wheelchair.

If a proposition were on the ballot to end the death penalty in California, I would vote for it. Any deterrent value of the death penalty is more than offset by the high costs of imposing the penalty and of possible errors. However, of all the situations were a death penalty is most appropriate, it is this: a person in prison killing someone for participating in a trial as a witness.

Confinement was not sufficient to keep this person from killing. Another life sentence has no deterrent or retributive justice value.

And I can't imagine why it is more acceptable for the State to kill someone who is healthy than a person who is near death (unless you felt that keeping him alive in a painful state was superior punishment). Being old and sick does not make a person more worthy of forgiveness. One might think he would be less capable of hurting others, but he was able to kill three people without any physical act.


angry little owl said...

here here!

Antares said...

I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to prevent him from communicating with the outside world that are less drastic than killing him.

c&d said...

You might think so...

American Radio Works Transcript

At Pelican Bay State Prison, behind a maze of concrete walls, high voltage security fences and steel doors, lies a prison within a prison. It's known as a supermax. The state of California calls this place the Security Housing Unit or SHU.

Most of the inmates in the SHU are gang members. Their cells are windowless and nearly bare. The men are locked here 22 and a half hours a day, usually alone. Inmates are held in virtual isolation to try to keep them from working together. But even the SHU can't stop some leaders from running their gangs. Joseph McGrath was warden at Pelican Bay until 2004.

Nuestra Familia generals at Pelican Bay Prison controlled dozens of street regiments like Cortina's. 25 percent of profits, mainly from drug dealing, was deposited in NF bank accounts. To issue orders from prison and control gang members within the prison, the gang uses ingenious methods.

The NF passes messages in legal mail and in scraps of paper filled with tiny script: micro-writing. Officer David Barneburg shows off a pile of recently intercepted messages.

Officer David Barneburg: This is what we refer to as a BNL, a bad news list. This one I've got here is actually 14 pages long and contains about 1500 names of northern Hispanics, their CDC number, any marks or tattoos they have that can identify them by. Whenever somebody arrives to a yard, this list will be referenced. If their name is on the list, they'll be targeted for assault. And this is only a partial list.

Montgomery: And where was that list being kept?

Barneburg: That was actually recovered from a northern Hispanic on our B facility. It was recovered by our B facility yard staff and was secreted in his rectum.