California’s moratorium holds
The moratorium was supposed to be broken with the execution of 56-year-old inmate Albert Greenwood Brown on Thursday 30 September after spending 28 years on death row for the rape and murder of 15-year-old Susan Jordan in 1982.
California’s moratorium on executions was initiated at the will of US District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel in December 2006, who placed a de facto moratorium on executions so that prison officials could overhaul the execution process to ensure that it complies with the US Constitution which states that punishments cannot be cruel or unusual.
The state formally adopted new lethal injection protocol on August 29 of this year despite 30,000 objections from the general public. The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) rejected the first revised protocol in June. The day after the OAL adopted the protocol the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office obtained an execution date for Brown.
Fortunately for Brown, numerous court battles over the new protocol resulted in the State Supreme Court’s decision to push his execution date back to Friday 1 October, which coincided with the expiration of the State’s supply of sodium thiopental – the first in the three-drug cocktail, supposed to render Brown unconscious.
Attempt to rush the execution
Without the anesthetic the execution did not proceed and will wait until early 2011 at the earliest. The Attorney General’s Office has come under fire from anti-death penalty proponents and Brown’s attorneys who claim that they were rushing to have Mr. Brown executed before the expiration of the sodium thiopental.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger refused to grant clemency in the form of a reprieve stating that “Brown’s jury reasonably concluded that a penalty of death was appropriate in this case, and I have no reason to disagree”. Brown’s request for clemency is substantially based on the fact that mitigating mental-impairment information was not presented to the jury before it delivered its penalty judgment.
Mr. Rosenberg, a spokesperson for Hospira, the only company that supplies the drug to the State, said that they will not be able to provide more of the anesthesia until 2011. He also asserted his displeasure that the drug has found its way into State death chambers as it’s meant to save lives. He stated: “The drug is not indicated for capital punishment, and Hospira does not support its use in this procedure.”