Governor’s reprieve may not be the news Death Row inmates want


Open Forum: Governor’s reprieve may not be the news Death Row inmates want to hear

On a sunny day a few years ago, a handful of UC Berkeley students, who were included in a tour of San Quentin State Prison, walked through an outdoor exercise area reserved for prisoners requiring extra security. To their astonishment, they saw convicted murderer Scott Peterson, under guard, doing his workout. A Stanislaus County judge in 2004 had condemned Peterson to die by lethal injection for killing his wife and their unborn child. The tour members gawked while a robust-looking Peterson spoke briefly with the public information officer conducting the tour.
Jessie Lau, a UC Berkeley undergraduate at the time, recalls the moment. “I remember everyone (the other inmates) dropping to the ground, and being quiet when he was brought into the courtyard area. As he walked through, he was smirking and had this confident swagger. He was pretty clean/fit, and seemed well taken care of. He seemed like he was enjoying the attention, and took his time, which made the walk seem longer although it must have been just a minute or two.”
The close encounter with a supposed-dead-man-walking illustrated a prison truth: One should stay out of prison, but if you have to serve a long sentence, California’s Death Row is not a bad option, compared to the main line in the 35 institutions run by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. That’s why Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reprieve for the 723 men and 22 women on Death Row is not the news the condemned may want to hear.

Newsom said he would not sign any death warrants while he’s in office, and he ordered the removal of some of the execution apparatus from the death chamber. Despite the reprieve on executions, the Death Row housing unit was to remain intact. For the time being, the long-term residents are holding on to the valuable perks the state gives them, privileges that main line inmates wish they had. Consider that on Death Row:

The state gives you lawyers gratis to guide your appeal through the courts. The appeals process of the cases will continue in the courts during the reprieve. Other inmates? They pay out of pocket for legal counsel, or they learn how to write their own writs.
You have privacy. San Quentin cells typically measure 4½ feet wide, 7 feet high, and 11 feet long. Death Row inmates however are single-celled; they don’t have to share their space, or body odors, with anybody else. Main line inmates are double-celled within this same space allotment, roughly the size of a walk-in closet, along with a toilet and a sink. Two men cannot pass each other without touching. Occasionally a prisoner will kill his cellmate while his “cellie” sleeps.
Inmates usually don’t have to worry about a beating or a stabbing. The main line prison yard can be hazardous to your health, although Death Row housing is no guarantee of safety. Last year, Death Row inmate Jonathan Fajardo, 30, was fatally stabbed in the chest and neck with an inmate-made weapon while he was in a yard complex at the prison. It was the first killing on Condemned Row since 1997.

If the moratorium were to become permanent, then San Quentin would be in for some drastic changes. What would be the rationale for keeping the 700-odd people on Death Row in the single-celled in East Block if they are never to face execution? Would they have their sentences commuted to life without parole? They would then have to be transported to maximum security prisons elsewhere in the state, because San Quentin’s main line is low security.
The most vocal opposition to Newsom’s plan may come from the Death Row inmates themselves.
William J. Drummond teaches a class at UC Berkeley in which students help edit the award-winning San Quentin News, the newspaper of San Quentin State Prison.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Open-Forum-Go...

Views: 7

Reply to This

 Please donate to TCC.  Your Contribution is greatly appreciated. Donate safely and securely through PayPal

Latest Activity

Patricia Gillenwater posted a discussion
10 hours ago
Larry Puckette replied to Suzie Nielsen's discussion The Goal-Muslim America-the Plan Education
"'since 1989'... yep, a couple other things that were rarely publicized about what islam…"
22 hours ago
LANYON posted discussions
22 hours ago
Patricia Gillenwater replied to Patricia Gillenwater's discussion Think About It Using Common Sense
"Yes Suzie you are one busy lady. Suspect that is in you DNA. One of the thoughts I had was a good…"
yesterday
Patricia Gillenwater replied to Patricia Gillenwater's discussion Think About It Using Common Sense
"Yes Suzi a momentous task before us. Yet we will try. Become a PC and Will too I cannot think of…"
yesterday
Patricia Gillenwater replied to LANYON's discussion How Fake News Could Be A Backdoor to Tyranny
"Obviously it is. I will always come down on the side of liberty, freedom of speech. I can not…"
yesterday
luis✩USA replied to Larry Puckette's discussion My random topics thread ...
"POOR, POOR CNN Despite 2 yrs of outright lies about Trump 24/7, a CNN poll shows that the…"
yesterday
Patricia Gillenwater posted a discussion

Think About It Using Common Sense

WARNING: This is not an easy nor pleasant read. Even if what I offer as opinion does not happen it…See More
Tuesday

Volcano's and Earthquakes


Your Contribution is Greatly Appreciated

Donate safely and securely through PayPal

© 2019   Created by Suzie Nielsen.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service