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.



There's another aspect to this that didn't find its way into the Chronicle. CDCR recently proposed a new amendment to lethal injection regulations that would require a member of the press to be a "reputable citizen" in order to secure permission to witness an execution. The term is left undefined, so if CDCR interprets "citizen" to mean "US citizen," it could potentially result in barring representatives of international media from witnessing executions. That's highly problematic and raises a First Amendment issue. Many people in the international community condemn the death penalty as a violation of human rights and international law, so foreign journalists might be the among the most critical in their coverage of executions in California.

Posted by rebecca on Sep. 22, 2010 @ 11:21 am

" representatives of the international media" do not have a U.S. Constitutional Right, therefore, no first ammendment issue exists.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

The cost of the death penalty is an odd argument for the more strident anti-death penalty types to make.

Encourage every legal antic to prolong and save the lives of various killers, and then complain about the cost?

Posted by matlock on Sep. 22, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

If convicted of captal offense person should be excuted.

Posted by Guest Dan Hilfer on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 7:13 am

I suspect one who looks at the World through rose colored spectacles would certainly disapprove of carrying out the death penalty. After all, one look at the Condemned crimes committed would indicate that they were mere vicitims themselves, caught up in the mundane society that we all live in and most that follow the rule of law. Additionally, the First Amendment applies to US Citizens exclusively. We have not achievied a World Wide Dictator yet.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 9:42 am

How a foreign journalist viewing an execution makes the person getting the needle more dead or less dead is a mystery though. The American leftist likes to look up to supposedly more enlightened European countries as an example, they haven't been touting the Greek economic miracle as of late though.

Posted by matlock on Sep. 23, 2010 @ 12:45 pm