"It's a good day to die"

These were the final words of 76-year-old Clarence Ray Allen (pictured) before he was murdered by the state of California yesterday. Ignoring arguments that putting to death an elderly, blind, partially deaf, and diabetic wheelchair-bound man, suffering from heart disease, was cruel and unusual punishment, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave the thumbs up for another execution at San Quentin, only a month after signing ‘Tookie’ Williams’ death warrant (see the blog entry here: Killing Tookie Williams).

Allen was not even allowed to shuffle the final few feet from his wheelchair to his execution table where he would be administered a lethal cocktail of drugs, but was instead manacled and carried to the stretcher by guards.

His lawyers had lodged claims never before endorsed by the high court: that putting to death a frail old man would contravene the US Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, and that the 23 years he spent on death row were unconstitutionally cruel too. But to no avail. In most countries, after 23 years in prison for murder you could expect to be released from prison. In the USA this is all part of the waiting-to-die game.

Governor “grim reaper” Schwarzenegger will have plenty more opportunities to rid California of its most dangerous threats to society in coming years. There are now five condemned men in California who are over 70 and nearly three dozen in their 60s. Since California reinstated capital punishment, 31 men have died on death row of natural causes and 11 have been executed. The oldest person executed in California in recent years was brain-damaged 62-year-old Donald Beardslee, who was murdered by California State 11 months ago.

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