From the July 1996 magazine.

A Big Book on Death Row

In 1981, I was serving in a southern prison, doing the last few weeks of a five-year sentence. I'd been in that prison for nearly five years, and I'd been locked up, except for four months, since 1968. I'd made a decision that something had to change. As I drew near my release date, I was determined to get out and stay out. I was nearly thirty-five, and had been locked up since I was twenty-two. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. All of my seven felony convictions were related to alcohol or drugs. They were all violent. I wasn't a social drinker or a friendly drug user.

My job assignment, in 1981, was "Death Row Trustee." This entailed janitorial duties, and other jobs, on Death Row. There were about eighty men under sentence of death at that time. There hadn't been an execution since 1965, but the rumor was that one was happening, very soon.

-- Mike P.

El Cajon, California

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