California prison officials prepare for execution despite court moratorium

Sept. 1, 2010 – Julie Small – KPCC

California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation e-mailed news organizations late today about how to apply to witness the September 29 execution of condemned Riverside inmate Albert Greenwood Brown. Prison officials issued the advisory just one day after a Marin County judge barred California from carrying out executions by lethal injection.

Four years ago, a federal judge placed a permanent injunction on executions by lethal injection in California. The judge found numerous problems with the state’s death chamber and with the methods of executing prisoners. He ordered improvements.

Prison officials spent millions to build a new death chamber at San Quentin and to draft new standards for executions.

Another lawsuit filed in Marin County challenged how the state developed those standards.

The judge in that case just upheld the permanent injunction on executions.

But before that happened, another judge in Riverside County issued an order to execute Albert Greenwood Brown — convicted in the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl.

Terry Thorton with state’s Department of Corrections said the Riverside judge’s execution order requires prison officials to prepare for an execution.

Legal experts say the state cannot lawfully carry out the execution and that corrections officials are wasting their time with the preparations.