Rush to Execution Halted

Marin—Following developments in federal and state court, the Attorney General conceded today that the execution scheduled to occur at 9:00 pm on September 30 will not go forward. The concession came just 30 hours before the scheduled execution. Yet legal experts had predicted for weeks that the execution would not occur due to the many remaining legal challenges and uncertainties regarding the state’s method of execution, lethal injection.

“It is not surprising the courts finally halted the execution from proceeding, given the numerous pending legal questions,” said Natasha Minsker, Death Penalty Policy Director for the ACLU of Northern California. “What is surprising is that the state moved forward with requesting execution dates when so many uncertainties remained.”

“Our sympathies go out to the family of Susan Jordan who was killed by Albert Brown nearly 30 years ago,” said Judy Kerr, the sister of a murder victim and outreach coordinator for California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. “They have been on a cruel legal rollercoaster for decades. We cannot imagine what the events of the last few weeks have been like for them.”

“This is just another example of why California’s dysfunctional death penalty system should be replaced with life without possibility of parole with work and restitution to the victims,” said Lance Lindsey, Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus. “Life without possibility of parole is swift and certain punishment. By replacing the death penalty with life without possibility of parole we would save the families of murder victims from this painful, legal rollercoaster ride. And the state will save $1 billion in five years and avoid legal chaos like this.”

According to a 2009 poll conducted by UC Santa Cruz Professor Craig Haney, two thirds of Californians support replacing the death penalty with life without possibility of parole with the requirement that the inmate work and pay restitution to the victim’s family. State records show that every person sentenced to life without possibility of parole has died in prison or will die in prison unless new evidence emerges to prove he or she is innocent.

“Californian’s death penalty is costly and ineffective,” said James Clark, Death Penalty Field Organizer for the ACLU of Southern California. “The death penalty in California costs ten times more than life without possibility of parole. At this time of budget crisis, we should replace the death penalty and use the money saved to invest in public safety and education.”

“The human costs of the death penalty are just as high as the financial costs,” said Kevin Keenan, Executive Director of the ACLU of San Diego. “The death penalty is a hollow promise that does nothing to help victims heal. Life without possibility of parole better serves society’s need to protect and punish.”