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California Department of Corrections to begin phasing out San Quentin death row

San Quentin’s infamous death row is facing its own death sentence. The California Department of Corrections (CDCR) has now begun transferring death row inmates to other prisons across the state to comply with voter approved Proposition 66.

“It’s like you’re locked down everywhere you go. When you come out of your cell you’re in handcuffs and you come in these cages you’re still locked down. When you go to the yard, it’s a small yard, you’re still locked down,” said Marcus Adams, describing what it’s been like living on San Quentin’s death row. 

He was originally sentenced to death for triple murder, and has lived in a 4-by-10-foot cell for the past 21 years.

Like all death row inmates, anytime he leaves his cell he must be escorted and handcuffed.

“Being on death row, you’re confined to your cell 20 hours out of the day. It’s always like cold in the building you’ve got to get fed in your cells,” said Adams.

But that’s all about to change as the department of corrections has begun clearing out San Quentin’s east block, moving condemned inmates to other prisons across the state.

It’s all a result of Proposition 66 which requires death sentenced inmates to pay restitution to their victims. Meaning they need to be able to leave their cells to work.

The CDCR says inmates will be mainstreamed into the general population, and not required to wear handcuffs at their new prisons. 

There are still 399 condemned prisoners living there. The youngest is 24 and the oldest 93 — all of them will be moved out by the end of summer.

Michael Lamb was sentenced to death for killing a fellow gang member, once a part of a white supremacy gang, he says he’s now a changed man.

“I can’t tell you how good it feels to get rid of the death row stigma. Because when people think death row, they think serial killers, rapists, child molesters and I’m not here for that. I’m here for killing a gang member so that stigma right there I can’t wait to get away from,” said Lamb.

Daniel Landry who was convicted of killing another prisoner has been on death row for 23 years.

“That’s the best thing that could’ve happened. To get out there and get a job and go work and get regular visits from my wife,” he said. 

But victims’ advocates say it’s a recipe for disaster.

“These prisoners are not the type of prisoners that should be put in mainstream,” said Phyllis Loya, victims’ advocate. “People are going to die because of this policy. There are several death row inmates that received the death sentence because they killed someone in prison already.”

But the condemned men say they are ready for a new way of life, and a little more freedom.

“It’s a different lifestyle for all of us. It’s going to be different. We get to walk to the chow hall. We get to stand in line to get ice cream and chicken on the bone and small stuff like that is big to us in here,” said prison Albert Jones.

“I can’t wait, I’m ready to go. I can’t wait to get out of here and be out there yep,” said prisoner Daniel Landry.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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