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CA: COVID Cuts A Lethal Path Through San Quentin’s Death Row

[ – 7/8/20]

The old men live in cramped spaces and breathe the same ventilated air. Many are frail, laboring with heart disease, liver and prostate cancer, tuberculosis, dementia. And now, with the coronavirus advancing through their ranks, they are falling one after the next.

This is not a nursing home, not in any traditional sense. It is California’s death row at San Quentin State Prison, north of San Francisco. Its 670 residents are serial killers, child murderers, men who killed for money and drugs, or shot their victims as part of their wasted gangster lives. Some have been there for decades, growing old behind bars. One is 90, and more than 100 are 65 or older.

Executions have been on hold in California since 2006, stalled by a series of legal challenges. And they won’t resume anytime soon: In 2019, two months after taking office, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on executions and ordered that San Quentin’s death chamber be dismantled. But death has come to San Quentin nonetheless.

In recent days, five death row inmates have died after contracting COVID-19. Almost 200 others are thought to be ill with the virus, according to a Newsom administration official not authorized to speak publicly. Scores more are refusing to be tested. For now, there is no clear remedy and no end in sight.

“San Quentin’s staff — especially medical staff — is simply drowning among the chaos,” State Public Defender Mary McComb said in a letter last week to the state Senate Public Safety Committee. “San Quentin desperately needs a significant number of additional personnel, and quickly.”

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So what?
It’s very hard to get on death row in California. If you’re there you did something that’s objectively very horrible.
No sympathy for those dudes.

MichaelIRS….A poem by Martin Niemöller

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Yep. Unless by some miscarriage of justice they’ve been wrongly convicted, a COVID death is better than most of those on Condemned Row deserve.
No sympathy from me either.

Yours is, essentially, the same argument that is used by a shocking number of Americans to justify their indifference, or even cheer-leading, of violence committed against “sex offenders” in jails and prisons. Their verbalizations in those cases sounds an awful lot like your own.

When people are sentenced to prison, or even if they are sentenced to death (an unbelievably anachronistic position that distinguishes the U.S. from other, civilized countries) it is understood that they aren’t being sentenced to starvation, the absence of medical care, beatings by other inmates, or to an indifferent concern for pandemics but to the punishment meted out by the courts and those, alone.

You can say that you’re not bothered by so-and-so being beaten, murdered or left to fight a dangerous pathogen without adequate medical care but that is to miss a much more important Constitutional point that separates us from the savagery of countries like China or North Korea.

I’d also like to point out that there ARE innocent people on death row as has been proven time-and-again by such organizations as the Innocence Project.

And yet, in spite of it all, much to her father’s chagrin the man who killed Polly Klass remains alive. What a world.

Why do you think that Richard Allen Davis dying of the coronavirus would be worse for him than spending every minute of his life on Death Row in San Quentin? That’s what I don’t get about the pro-death penalty people. Killing someone isn’t actually the worst thing you can do to someone. Life can get a whole lot worse than death.

I used to be pro death penalty after living in a very conservative state. When I was young and dumb I believed that everyone sentenced to death was guilty. What’s the point of having the death penalty when you have people on it for decades. States do not make life and they shouldn’t end it either, allow nature to do its job.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x