California’s death row houses more senior citizens than most of the state’s nursing homes, the Sacramento Bee reports. Ninety California death-row inmates are at least 65 years old. The number of seniors on death row has grown by nearly 500 percent since early 2006, when the state housed 16 seniors. California has not executed a prisoner since 2006, largely due to legal challenges to its lethal injection protocol. California voters approved Proposition 66 in November, demanding that the state speed up the death penalty process. Its implementation is on hold as the state Supreme Court rules on its constitutionality.
If California starts executing prisoners again, there is a strong chance that it will kill several elderly inmates. Condemned inmates over 65 committed their crimes an average of 31 years ago; a large number of their sentences have been upheld by the California Supreme Court. Executing the elderly rarely happens in the U.S.; just 19 of the 1,448 U.S. executions during the last 40 years have involved a killer over the age of 65, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.