Executions will be much more visible and sterile experiences at California’s San Quentin State Prison from now on, says the San Francisco Chronicle. Prison officials offered the first glimpse of their new lethal injection center yesterday, a week ahead of a planned execution few think will actually be carried out. The differences between this stark-white place and the old apple-green gas chamber are marked. The spacious $853,000 center has three brightly lit witness viewing rooms, and each gives a considerably better view than the cramped gas chamber’s lone, poorly illuminated viewing room.
Main observation room for 12 state officials and 17 media witnesses offers four wide, flat windows looking straight into a roomy, open chamber where the lethal injection gurney sits. This makes every angle of the execution visible – unlike the truncated, partially blocked sightlines of the old center. It is unclear whether there will be any witnesses at 12:01 a.m. next Wednesday to see rapist-murderer Albert Greenwood Brown, 56, put to death as planned. That’s because the execution itself is in doubt. Capital punishment in California has been blocked since 2006 by two state lawsuits contending improper procedures in planning injections and a federal suit contending that lethal injection is a cruel and unusual punishment.