Life on Death Row Pt. 2: Privileges, living conditions for some on San Quentin’s Death Row

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MARIN COUNTY (KRON) — Most inmates spend decades on death row.

Life on that dangerous cell block can obviously take its toll.

KRON’s Alecia Reid went behind the prison walls at San Quentin in Part 2 of our 5-part series. She was granted access the media hasn’t been granted for years.

She took a closer look at the conditions inside one of the world’s most notorious prisons, along with the privileges some good-behaving inmates get.

Life on death row looks like this–23 hours locked in a 4 by 10-foot cell. The routine is the same, every single day.

For the hardened inmates, keeping their sanity is the challenge.

In the yard, there is not a patch of grass in site. Instead, a row of cages allows inmates to get some fresh air–a total of 10 hours a week. It’s called hard time.

Some on death row will not admit or deny their guilt.

“I don’t know that there’s an amount of time that you can give a person…for the crime I’m convicted of that would satisfy everyone,” inmate Charles Edward Crawford II said.

Others, like Sunset Strip Killer Doug Clark, insist they’re innocent.

He is pinning his murderous rampage on his girlfriend, who was also convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He says she acted alone.

“These six women here in this case, and another woman she tried to frame me for,” Clark said.

This place is a fortress, and guards armed with automatic rifles keep watch. They are ready to react at a moment’s notice.

The East Block is home for most death row inmates–520 cells, packed five stories high. There are armed guards at every turn of the head.

The worst of the worst reside in the adjustment center. Security is even tighter there.

Guards tell KRON these security measures simply come with the territory. They risk their lives every day, while maintaining order there.

They are likely the first to be attacked by inmates, as they’ve seen in the past.

“There is one individual who’s housed here on death row who was responsible…for retiring four of our employees due to assaults,” prison spokesman Sam Robinson said.

The North Building is for privileged death row inmates. That’s where we find Scott Peterson.

He and other inmates have access to a roof because of good behavior.

This is also the original Condemned Row of San Quentin. Some inmates get to go outside every day.

Their view of the Bay is blocked by 20-foot fences and sniper posts.

As Alecia prepared for the unique look inside the notorious prison, she thought these inmates would be disrespectful and shout inappropriate things. But she found it was the exact opposite.

They were quite respectful and seemed to simply be doing their time, no matter how long that is.

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