IT’S is home to some of the most brutal figures in modern history – ‘Night Stalker’ serial killer Richard Ramirez and cult leader Charles Manson.
Today, 670 convicts – including his wife killer Scott Peterson – are on the prison’s chilling death penalty list.
Now, San Quentin State Prison is in danger of losing its tough reputation — with officials planning to dismantle its death row inmates and move inmates into the general population.
In 2016, state governor Gavin Newsom banned executions from taking place in California – leaving the execution room of the prison built in 2008 unused.
There have been no executions since 2006, when 76-year-old murderer Clarence Ray Allen was killed by lethal injection.
But the prison still has no pedestrians in the park. Here, let’s go behind bars to see how its death really is.
Attack or jump
Prisoners who received the death penalty were assessed and classified into one of two categories upon their arrival in San Quentin.
Lieutenant Sam Robinson told KALW Radio: “Here for death row inmates, we categorize them into Class A and Class B.
“Most A-listers are individuals who are programming and following our rules. Class B are individuals as opposed to that, who are not programmers or members of a gang or whatever the case may be.”
The German neo-Nazi gang Aryan Brotherhood was founded in San Quentin in 1964.
Gangs such as the Mexican Mafia, Nuestra Familia, Nazi Low Riders, Bloods and Crips are also active in the prison.
Those who don’t want to be gang affiliated “walk alone” and face a constant battle to stay outside the gang system.
Lt. Robinson described how one inmate “retired” the guards in the correctional facility cruelly, and said that inmates would be punished by slackers if they didn’t get a chance to attack. officials.
“Over the past few decades, you have retired four of our employees in this facility due to the assaults you have inflicted on them,” he said.
“Those individuals were assaulted to the point of extremely serious injuries and they were never able to return to service.”
He added: “If [prisoners] Do not assault staff when given the opportunity, they will be disciplined by other inmates here in the facility.
“But when you’re in the Adjustment Center, if you want to live among the population, you have to either follow the population order or dictate it.”
‘bone crusher’ legs
Prisoners assaulting prisoners was a common occurrence in the 70’s and 80’s – but still happens today.
Child murderer Edward Schaefer was fatally stabbed in the neck and chest with a homemade weapon described as “bone crusher” in 2010.
Schaefer, 44, of Novato, was repeatedly attacked by an unnamed inmate in the prison yard and died the same day.
He had arrived in San Quentin just months earlier, three days after receiving a life sentence for the murder of nine-year-old Melody Osheroff.
At least one suspected murder weapon has been recovered – made from bed parts and larger than a typical prison shackle.
“They were meant to do a lot of damage,” said state prison department spokesman Terry Thornton.
After the ban on execution in 2016, the biggest danger for death row inmates is suicide.
East inmate and killer Raymond Lewis, 41, said: “For me, this is worse than death.
“If I had had the courage or the heart, I would have ended it long ago.
“I hope people understand, this is not a way to live.”
Brutal and Unusual Punishment
Since the prison opened in 1893, 215 inmates have been hanged at San Quentin and another 194 have been executed since 1938.
The 7.5 ft wide, octagonal, lime green death chamber was in use until 1972 when the California Supreme Court criticized the punishment as “cruel and unusual”.
For 25 years, no inmates were convicted in this facility – until 1992.
Robert Alton Harris – who murdered two teenagers in 1978 – was the last prisoner to be killed in San Quentin.
Since then, 11 prisoners have been executed by lethal injection.
But in 2006, the prison was criticized for inhumanely injecting prisoners.
A county judge accused the prison of letting the dead writhe in agony as they died due to a lack of trained staff and poorly lit gas chambers used for injections.
In 2008, San Quentin opened a new $853,000 execution room at the prison — but it will never be used.
Last year, the prison was accused of allowing Covid-19 to spread throughout the cramped and overcrowded prison.
An inmate Kerry Rudd told Mother Jones: “It’s like a horror movie where you’re watching as a monster comes towards you and you have no way out, you have nowhere to run. We’re locked up here, it’s like we’re watching this virus get closer to us and there’s nothing we can do.”
Another inmate John Mattox was transferred to San Quentin when he showed signs of Covid.
Two days after Mattox arrived, he was tested, only to find out he was positive 5 days later and put in a dirty cell.
He recounted that the cell was “dirty and one officer took water with bleach on the walls and mattress and left without giving me a towel to wipe it off.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/4595884/inside-san-quentin-death-row-shanks-fight-initiations/ Inside San Quentin death row, where killers are hit with ‘bone crusher’ feet and attack guards delay in ‘start’