I've just started to write to someone on death row, and had been assuming that conditions for prisoners on DR are more or less the same as maximum security for non-DR inmates. But according to an essay I found written by somone else (who's since been executed) conditions are much, much worse--to the point they sound simply inhumane and in violation of all kinds of human rights. https://murderpedia.org/male.H/h/hannon-patrick.htm (scroll down for the actual essay at the bottom of the page).
24 hours a day in their cells, literally they don't leave their solitary cells for years, except to be executed. They have an open front grill at the front of the cell, facing a wall, and 13 other prisoners on the same cellblock whom they can hear but not see. It can be brutally cold in winter without heat, and brutally hot in summer with no AC or ventillation. Food is inadequate to stave off actual hunger, and has to be supplemented from commissary if the inmate has funds to buy extra food. There's nothing to do but write letters, watch TV (every cell has a tv, which can't be turned off completely) or listen to the screams and ravings of people in neighboring cells who have lost their minds long ago to the torture of solitary confinement. Finding a way to pass the hours every day is the greatest challenge. They are treated like vermin, and regarded as such, by the people charged with housing and feeding them.
Some of them may indeed have done terrible things, and I'm not suggesting they be given a free pass or a country club lifestyle to enjoy in consequence. But it seems to me that the particular conditions visited upon DR inmates is a level of hell and horror that's hard to imagine, and what purpose does it serve, except as society's retribution? I think if the penalty for the crime is death, and it's for someone who can't be safely released again into society because of the damage they will inflict, best to put them to death quickly and humanely. Extending their lives artificially for years in a kind of living death/mind-and-body torture seems about on the same level of human brutality as stoning couples to death for adultery...just gratuitous and excessive, and not befitting a civilized culture.
I guess I'm just complaining. And probably preaching to the choir, by coming here. There are a lot of burning issues competing for people's attention these days, and I know DR conditions for people who've done awful things isn't at the top of everyone's list, but I just feel like spouting off about how horrendous it is. It really bothers me that we have this hidden world of humans being tortured day after day behind bars in our taxpayer funded institutions, and there is nothing anyone seems able to do about it, least of all those caught in the maw of this giant eater-of-souls monster machine called the US prison system.