Death. In living color


The press coverage of the new execution chamber at San Quentin has been astonishing. Check out Kevn Fagan in the Chron:

The spacious $853,000 center has three brightly lit witness viewing rooms, and each gives a considerably better view than the cramped gas chamber's lone, poorly illuminated viewing room.

It's like a damn real-estate review. A bright, well-lit place with a great view. And in Marin County, no less. A bargain at the $800,000 the taxpayers coughed up for this construction job.

KTVU news last night wasn't much better. Scott Shafer on KQED was a little more reasonable; at least he noted that "On some level it's hard to imagine an execution being humane." 

Folks, please: This is a room where people are going to be killed. Human beings. Strapped to a gurney, hooked up to an IV line and injected with poison. It's ghastly, it's disgraceful, it's something that puts the United States far out of synch with the rest of the civilized world.

It's also, by the way, insanely expensive; California pays more than $100 million a year to keep its death row operating, and according to the L.A. Times, it costs $250 million every time we kill someone.

It would have been nice to see a little perspective when the California Department of Corrections does a dog and pony show to present its latest killing machine.