Living and Working on Death Row

Authored by: Robert Johnson

Routledge Handbook on Capital Punishment

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138651579
eBook ISBN: 9781315624723
Adobe ISBN:


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There are over 2,900 prisoners living under sentence of death in 34 states and the federal prison system. 1 The vast majority of death row prisoners live under conditions of solitary confinement. 2 Conditions of solitary confinement vary across a limited spectrum. In states in which executions occur with regularity, conditions of solitary confinement tend to be more repressive, with prisoners spending virtually all of their time alone in their cells and heavily restrained when out of their cells for limited periods of solitary recreation, individual showers, or noncontact visits. In states where executions are rare, conditions tend to be more relaxed, with prisoners allowed out of their cells for longer periods, sometimes including small-group recreation and even contact visits. 3 In this article, the focus is on the more restrictive solitary confinement death row regimes, since these are the regimes more closely associated with the death penalty in action.

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