Georgia to execute US state’s oldest death row inmate

Washington: The US state of Georgia is set to execute its oldest death-row prisoner today, just days before his 73rd birthday, in a case critics say is emblematic of capital punishment’s excesses.

Brandon Jones, scheduled to receive a lethal injection at a state prison in Jackson, has spent more than 36 years behind bars for the 1979 murder of a convenience store clerk.

Critics point to his case as an example of the “double punishment” faced by some death row prisoners — spending decades in solitary confinement with no prospects but death.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer last year spoke out against “unconscionably long delays that undermine the death penalty’s penological purpose.”

Death penalty opponents note that many death row inmates were sentenced to death at a time when they lacked a satisfactory defense system and that if they were tried today, the outcome would be different.

“Jones’s case raises questions of proportionality and discriminatory application of the death penalty,” the Death Penalty Information Center said in a statement.

“He and his co-defendant Van Solomon — both African American — were sentenced to death… For killing a white gas station store clerk during a robbery.

“Jones denies shooting the clerk and prosecutors never determined who fired the fatal shot.”

Solomon died on the electric chair in 1985.

A judge had ordered Jones to be resentenced because jurors had a Bible in the room during deliberations over his punishment.

During the decades he spent behind bars, Jones read a lot and become known for his writings on prison life and issues of race.

Jones, who would turn 73 on Valentine’s Day, declined to request a final meal ahead of his 7:00 pm (local time) execution.

“He will be receiving the institutional tray consisting of chicken and rice, rutabagas, seasoned turnip greens, dry white beans, cornbread, bread pudding and fruit punch,” the Department of Corrections said in a statement.

Currently, 76 men are on death row in Georgia, which suspended executions for several months in 2015 in response to a controversy over the drugs used in its lethal injections.

Jones would be the fifth person executed in the United States this year.