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Taking a Closer Look: California

San Quentin State Prison

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There is no work program in place.


Men on death row can purchase some art supplies like colored pencils.



Men on death row are generally served three meals a day. Portions are too small and lack nutritional value.

So called johnny sacks, a boiled egg and a peanut butter sandwich, are a common meal.

Solitary Confinement

Men on death row are in their cells for 23 hours a day.

Time in Cell

Cells  are 12ft x size. They have  a  sealed window the  size of one's palm, a toilet/sink, a table, shelf, and locker to store personal belongings.  Many men can touch both walls of their cell with their outstretched arms.


Visitations are non-contact and are conducted using phones through a pane of glass. Men on death row are entitled to a 2 hour visit per week on Tuesday, Thursday or Satuday.

Educational Programs

Death row has a faith-based program with educational courses.

 Two books can be ordered from the library once a week. Unfortunately, the library is closed for most of the year.


Texas Department of Criminal Justice policy states that recreation is 7 hours/week, either inside or outside. However, in reality recreation time is much less.

Inside consists of a "dayroom," or a cage in front of the cells in each section. Outside, inmates are  in cages with a hole in the ceiling.


Men on Death Row are unable to watch television. They can have a radio in their cell. They have tablets and can email via a messaging system. They are allowed one 5 minute phone call per week. 

Attorney Visits

Attorney visits take place in the same room as, and sometimes directly next to, personal visits via phone and through glass. This results in little to no privacy. Attorneys are not allowed to buy food or drink for the men during the visit.  

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