Inmates on California’s death row are growing elderly in prison with executions on hold due to “legal challenges” to the protocol surrounding lethal injection.
California has not executed anyone since 2006, and according to the Sacramento Bee, the halt on executions not only turns California’s death row into a nursing home, but also makes it increasingly unlikely that certain executions will be carried out, even if given a green light. This is because “executing the elderly rarely happens in the United States.”
There have been 1,448 executions conducted throughout the U.S. during the past four decades. Of those, only 19 have been elderly people. This is good news for California’s aging death row population, 12 percent of whom are 65 years old or older. This also goes far toward explaining why the elderly are increasingly dying of natural causes while incarcerated on California’s death row.
On the other hand, the long lives lived at taxpayer expense are an affront to the families of those murdered and assaulted, families who wait years, if not decades, for justice. For example, families of those attacked by Charles Case–the “Midday Rapist”–know he lives out his days “on death row in the East Block at San Quentin State Prison” although he was sentenced to death in 1996.
The Bee reports that “the oldest person executed in the modern era was John Nixon, who was 77 when Mississippi killed him in 2005. Five condemned inmates in California are older than Nixon.”