Death-row inmates are often held in solitary confinement, where they are exposed to far greater hardship and worse circumstances than ordinary convicts. As a result, many people's mental health is deteriorating. Many develop serious psychological problems such as depression or anxiety.
In addition to being held alone in small cells for 23 hours a day, death-row inmates suffer from other extreme abuses that cause substantial mental anguish. They are frequently denied access to the outside world with no physical activity to keep them healthy. Some are forced to eat feces or shave ice with their teeth to avoid being served fresh food because it might contain poison to which they are sensitive due to their status.
Many have severe headaches all the time due to elevated levels of stress hormones that can't escape through their eyes due to lop-sided contact with doctors when they visit. Others report hearing noises inside their heads that others cannot hear. Still others claim that angels or God speak to them and give them hope for a future life. But most disturbing of all, many report that they see demons around them that only they can see.
Because these men and women are considered dangerous even after they have been found guilty of murder, they are not given a sentence commutation for medical reasons. However, some governors will commute the sentence of a particularly ill prisoner if he or she is close to dying.
Many death row convicts suffer from mental illnesses, and their seclusion exacerbates their condition. Older convicts also have significant physical infirmities, making their execution an especially humiliating act. Death row inmates often complain about being treated like animals or slaves.
The death penalty is legal in 31 countries and territories around the world. It is either mandated by law or permitted by law in another 90 countries. Many of these executions are carried out by hanging, lethal injection, firing squad, or gas. However, electricity is used in the execution of prisoners in China, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
In addition to being legally executed, people can also be sentenced to die in prison. Prison officials typically delay the execution while a prisoner's case works its way through the system, which could include appeals and collateral attacks. If the sentence is upheld on further appeal, then it is possible that the person will eventually be released due to overcrowding or some other reason.
People have been put to death in one form or another for hundreds of years. The death penalty provides a severe punishment without requiring prosecutors to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Instead, it allows judges or juries to decide what degree of guilt warrants death.
They are confined by themselves in solitary confinement. In certain places, death-row convicts are permitted to live alongside and contact with other death-row inmates. Death-row detainees are segregated into a separate location prior to the execution and are normally observed by an officer. They will not be released from segregation for at least 24 hours before the execution is scheduled to take place.
Death rows are generally isolated from the rest of the prison population. Prisoners on death row are usually held in solitary confinement. Although they are considered prisoners, they do not have the same rights as other inmates. They cannot join a union, nor can they have contact with attorneys unless granted special permission by the state government. Death rows are also subject to being closed if there is a change in administration at the prison where they are located.
There are five men on Texas' death row. All were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die. The men are Randall Wayne Davie, 47; Charles Donald Dotson, 44; John William Elliott, 46; James Patrick Gorman, 49; and Lawrence Russell Welch, 41.
Davie was arrested after he shot and killed an off-duty police officer during a robbery attempt. At his trial, witnesses testified that they saw him shoot the officer multiple times in the head. Police found $20 in cash in Davie's pocket at the time of his arrest.
In the United States, death-row inmates generally spend more than a decade awaiting execution. Furthermore, unlike general-population prisoners, even in solitary confinement, death-row inmates are constantly unsure when they will be killed. As a result, death-row inmates are usually placed in maximum-security facilities where they can more easily receive their sentences.
Death-row inmates are not allowed to have phones in their cells, so they often write letters instead. Their mail is screened for contraband including drugs and other illegal items.
Because of the risk of violence from other inmates, death-row inmates are usually assigned prison guards as roommates. The guards work with officers from the department that runs the prison to arrange schedules that allow them to be present for executions without being put at risk.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, there are currently 1,527 people on death row in the United States. Of these individuals, 532 were sentenced to death after a trial before a jury of their peers. The remaining 495 were sentenced to death by a judge alone or by a judge who made the sentencing decision after a jury trial was waived.
The center also reports that 70 men and 2 women have been executed since the resumption of capital punishment in the United States in 1976. Five more people are scheduled to be executed this year.