On 18/02/07 19:40, in article
HANG THE SON OF A BITCH
Hang a 90+ yr old man???
Generally, those on death row are not executed beyond a certain age.
Mid-70s seem to be about the "moral limit in the USA, and of course
we Europeans (your are not a European Piggy) do not do any
executions. It makes bad press to execute the old even in the
Here is something I posted on Feb 10 2005. LeRoy Nash is still with us
and from inside information we have found out that his "to be executed
dossier" keeps being push to the bottom of the pile. The Arizona
authorities don't want to deal with this one.
Death row population is graying
Like the other 107 convicted killers on Arizona's death row, LeRoy Nash is
allowed to leave solitary confinement for an hour each day to exercise in
a secure room.
At 89, LeRoy Nash is the oldest inmate currently on death row in the U.S.
But Nash, 89, seldom does. Hobbled by arthritis, deafness and heart
disease, the oldest person under a death sentence in the USA usually just
sits in his cell. He reads and writes letters in block print, and
sometimes he strains to hear the conversations of other death row inmates
through a 1-foot-square glass window and the concrete walls.
"I can't send or receive e-mail, nor make any collect telephone calls,"
Nash said in a recent letter to a USA TODAY reporter. "Unfortunately, this
is one of the tightest death rows in America."
Nash may be held in "solitary," but in another sense he has plenty of
A record 110 prisoners aged 60 and older were on death rows across the
nation as of Dec. 31, 2003, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics says.
That's nearly triple the 39 death row seniors that the bureau counted nine
years earlier. During the same period, the total number of convicts under
death sentences rose 18.3%, to 3,374.
The rising number of death row seniors is a little-noted phenomenon that
is raising new questions for courts, and public relations issues for
Nash and another elderly killer have asked federal judges to rule on the
constitutionality of executing inmates with dementia, Alzheimer's or other
And executing a lame, deaf and infirm senior - even one who has committed
aggravated murder - is a prospect that few prison wardens relish,
according to legal scholars such as Jonathan Turley, a law professor at
George Washington University who has worked with older prisoners.
"'Dead man walking' is one thing," Turley says. "'Dead man being pushed
along to the execution chamber in a wheelchair' has a different feel."
'Having it both ways'
Death row's elderly population has grown for several reasons.
A few seniors are on death row because they committed aggravated murder at
an unusually old age. Nash fatally shot a Phoenix coin store clerk in a
holdup in 1982, when he was 67. (Nash insists that it was "a strictly
self-defense, live-or-die matter.") Blanche Moore, at 71 the oldest of 4
elderly women on death row, was convicted of killing a boyfriend with an
arsenic-laden milkshake in North Carolina in 1990, when she was 57.
Many others are there because death penalty appeals can stretch for
decades. The last senior citizen to be executed, Donald Beardslee of
California, was put to death in January at age 61, after 21 years of
appeals. North Carolina convict Jerry Cummings began appealing his murder
conviction in 1966, when he was 27. It has been set aside and reinstated
twice; he's now 65.
Death penalty supporters say it is disingenuous for seniors to prolong
their appeals for years and to then argue that they are too old to be
"That's having it both ways," says Ken Wallis, legal adviser to Alabama
Gov. Bob Riley.
But Nash's attorney, Thomas Phalen, says that foot-dragging by courts
often causes appeals to languish. Nash, for example, has had an appeal
before the U.S. District Court in Phoenix for more than 4 years without a
ruling. If Nash were to lose, subsequent appeals likely would last for at
least four more years - meaning that he likely would not be scheduled for
execution until his mid-90s.
"The judges can read the files; they know when they're dealing with an old
prisoner," Phalen says. "It's hard not to conclude that they're hoping
that natural causes will take an uncomfortable decision out of their
Executing seniors can be an unpopular proposition, even in a prison that
houses hardened convicts.
Alabama officials saw an example of that last August, when James Hubbard,
74, was executed. Willie Minor, the old man's neighbor on the state's
death row in Donaldson, Ala., filed a petition asking Riley to grant
clemency to "this elderly and sick man" as a "matter of justice, mercy and
Executing Hubbard, who suffered from prostate and colon cancer and alleged
that he had dementia, was "offensive to every civilized Alabamian,"
Minor's petition said.
The request was denied.
Convicts older than 50 represent the fastest-growing group in the general
populations of state and federal prisons.
From 1992 to 2001, the number of state and federal prisoners aged 50 and
older jumped from 41,586 to 113,358 - or about 170%, according to the
Bureau of Justice Statistics. During the same period, the total U.S.
prison population increased by 6%, to 2,100,146.
Some states have begun innovations aimed at curbing the rising costs of
dealing with older prisoners.
In 35 states, elderly prisoners are housed in geriatric facilities within
prisons. Alabama's is across the street from a hospital, saving time and
expense when prisoners need critical care. In Ohio, older prisoners are
housed in areas that have few stairs.
At least 29 states have begun hospice or other "end of life" programs
within prisons, says Ronald Aday, a professor at Middle Tennessee State
University in Murfreesboro.
But none of the innovations help the death row elderly. Because of their
condemned status, they are segregated from other prisoners and held in
special facilities - often in individual cells, as is the case for Nash in
Nash is among the death row seniors whose appeals are raising new legal
In 1999, Phalen argued that Nash, then 83, suffered from dementia and thus
should not be executed. The attorney cited a 1976 U.S. Supreme Court
ruling that forbids executing prisoners who have become mentally
incompetent. A federal judge said the appeal was premature because Nash
did not have an execution date.
In Alabama last year, attorney Alan Rose Sr. raised the same argument to
try to keep Hubbard from being executed. Two of three federal appeals
court judges essentially ruled that Hubbard was too late with his appeal.
But U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Rosemary Barkett dissented, noting that
Hubbard "could not have brought the claim earlier" because dementia
typically begins in old age.
Hubbard was executed. But Phalen says he and other attorneys for death row
seniors likely will try to base future arguments on Barkett's reasoning.
Meanwhile, Nash says he has no interest in stretching out his appeal. He
first entered prison in 1930, when he was 15, and he has spent nearly half
of his 89 years behind bars for robbery, two murders and other crimes. He
says he wants his appeal to conclude quickly, so that if he wins he could
be resentenced to life in prison and return to the prison's general
Keeping old men like him on death row is "idiotic," Nash says. Growing old
in prison is "brutish" enough, he says, without being locked up in