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mjuran
mjuran

I've been getting interested to understand how the conditions (what's available, daily schedule, general level of treatment by staff, food and health services, etc.) are different on death row, compared to, say,  for prisoners with life sentences in the general prison population.  And also how the social environment is different, if it is.  It's hard for me to tell much, because I have only one pen pal on DR, but there seem to be some differences between his experience of prison and that of my non-DR pen pals.

For one, he seems to have an really egregious level of treatment, when it comes to doing without basic things.  His light switch broke again, which it has done before, and until it gets fixed he sits in the dark--literally.  There's no window for light in his cell, and he has to use his tablet as a flashlight to find anything in his locker, and can't paint, which is the only thing he enjoys doing to keep himself calm.  It's been at least a week now.  There's no AC in his wing at all, and the heat is unbearable, it's also unheated and cold in winter.  Sometimes he's gone without water for several days in a row when the water is turned off to his cell.  These are things I didn't imagine I'd hear about.  Being in solitary except for one or two "yards" a week, yes, I imagined that, and also bad food and poor medical care and all the rest of it (not that he has complained about any of those things).  But being left in the dark, or without drinking water, for days?  Weeks, even?  Is that standard and par for the course on death row, or does he have an especially bad DR unit?  

Also, I guess the social scene is different, because everyone has a cell to themselves, and there isn't much mixing or chance for rioting or fighting, no prison gang activity, I would imagine, as there wouldn't be much need for the inmates to keep order among themselves.  I compare that to other inmates I know who spend a great deal of their energy worrying about their status and keeping themselves and others safe, and just surviving, in prison;  or being subjected to very harsh discipline measures by staff, because discipline and order is hard to maintain on their units.  I don't see any of that as being a concern for my DR buddy, his relationship to the other prisoners on his unit is simply being civil to others and trying to tune out the yelling and screaming from the adjoining cells.

What are other people's impressions of how it is being on death row versus being in a high security prison?  I'm just curious if others have a similar impression, and what else they could add to it.

 
lucyd78
lucyd78

There are so many variation from institution to institution, it is hard to see what differences are DR vs Gen pop and what are "normal" variations from place to place. 

I have 2 penfriends on DR (one in Texas and one in Tennessee) and what facilities they have and are allowed to do varies greatly.

For example Texas do not have access to tablets or kiosks, so it's all snail mail. There also doesn't seem to be any educational programs, TV, or circle time. Inmates do not mingle, they go from their cell to a bigger cage to walk around for their exercise but that's it.