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January 13, 2006

Schwarzenegger denies clemency to Allen

As detailed in this article, "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denied clemency this afternoon for convicted murderer Clarence Ray Allen, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison early Tuesday."  Allen had argued, as detailed in posts linked below, that his old age and poor health provided a justification for clemency.  Governor Schwarzenegger's written explanation for his unsurprising decision not to grant clemency on these grounds can be found here.

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January 13, 2006 at 10:12 PM | Permalink

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Comments

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

I posted this comment on 12/28/04 post, then realized that I'm more likely to receive a response if I attach this post to a more recent blog entry.

This is a policy question. 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."

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/01/13/national/main1209826.shtml

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 10:57:55 AM

You are not the only person to ask this question. There is a simple legal answer. Chief Justice Rehnquist's lead opinion in Ohio Adult Parole Authority v. Woodard indicates that inmates have an interest in being executed according to the judgment of the court (as opposed to being, for instance, summarily executed by the guards). In addition, until the appointed day of Allen's execution, he always had the option of potential legal remedies that might reduce his death sentence. When Allen suffered his heart attack on 9/2/05, the appointed legal date for that execution had not yet arrived. Furthermore, neither the prison staff nor the emergency room physicians had the power to implement the death judgment. According to the logic of the Woodard case, to have simply let Allen die because he was going to be executed anyway, would have violated his constitutional rights.

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Posted by: richard | Jun 26, 2007 2:40:30 PM

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In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB