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December 28, 2005

Too old and sick to die?

As detailed in this AP article, Clarence Ray Allen, the "75-year-old condemned inmate with a January 17 execution date, has asked the California Supreme Court to block his death penalty on grounds of his advanced age and serious illness."  Interestingly, as the article notes, the California Supreme Court has ordered state prosecutors by next week to respond to Allen's claim that it is "unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment to execute a person of his age and infirmities."

As the AP article also notes, Allen's lawyers have made similar arguments in his clemency petition to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  A helpful reader has sent me the clemency papers in the Allen case, which you can download below.  They make for interesting reading.

Clemency petition: Download allen_petition_for_clemency.doc

Clemency opposition: Download allen_opposition_to_clemency_petition.rtf

Reply to opposition: Download allen_reply_petition_clemency.pdf

UPDATE:  This Sacramento Bee article notes that Allen's attorneys are claiming that "State executioners will be violating the Americans with Disabilities Act if they make the aged and infirm Clarence Ray Allen walk the final steps to his death."  The also also discusses, and provides this link to, a letter  supporting clemency that "Schwarzenegger received from former California Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Grodin who, as a member of the panel in 1986, wrote the opinion upholding the defendant's death sentence."

December 28, 2005 at 01:29 AM | Permalink


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By way of introduction, I'm a first-year law student at LSU.

This is more a policy comment than a sentencing comment. A CBS article about Mr. Allen's situation stated, in part, that he "has been on death row for more than 23 years" and that he "had to be resuscitated after suffering a heart attack last year at San Quentin Prison."


Why do we actively prevent death-row inmates from dying, especially those who have spent more than 22 years on death row? The state has already made a solemn, legal determination that they want this guy dead, yet they keep him alive so they can kill him later?

I'm somewhat baffled, and I'm sure there's an explanation for this, but I don't know what it is. If someone could explain it to me (and perhaps some other puzzled blog-readers), please do so.

Posted by: Matt Caplan | Jan 14, 2006 10:55:45 AM

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