Tuesday, January 21, 2003


Their life was spared, but now they have community showers!!!

From WaPo, (a couple of questions first)....


Off Ill. Death Row, To a Rougher Place
Inmates' Isolation Also Meant Safety

Shortly after outgoing Gov. George Ryan's dramatic announcement Saturday that he would spare the lives of 167 inmates on Illinois's death row, Andre Jones, a convicted double-murderer who has faced a death sentence since 1980, telephoned his friend Jack Nordgaard, a retired Lutheran pastor who has been visiting condemned prisoners in the state for 20 years. Jones, 46, a short, slightly built man whose hair has begun to gray, was frightened.

"He said he doesn't know if he can do the rest of his life off of death row in a maximum-security institution," Nordgaard said. "It's just because you're always watching your back."

The convicted murderers whose sentences were commuted last weekend are no longer facing death, but for many of them, day-to-day life will be much rougher, and possibly more violent, according to people familiar with conditions in the state's prisons.

On death row they have been confined behind bars 23 hours a day, deprived of work and educational programs and shackled hand and foot when ushered to meet visitors.

But they also have their own cells, meals delivered by guards, and reasonably good access to art supplies, reading material and telephones. Many are ministered to regularly by an array of churches, religious groups and organizations opposed to the death penalty. And virtually all enjoy the comfort of knowing that prison enemies cannot easily knife, beat, rape or intimidate them. Much of that will now be lost as they face life terms without parole in overcrowded, hellishly hot prisons.

...He acknowledged that for many of the inmates, transferring off death row may be an ordeal. "Look at it from an inmate's perspective," he said. "The best thing that can happen for an inmate is not to have a cellmate . . . all of a sudden having one after 10 or 15 years may be a big change."

In recent days, Fairchild said, prison authorities have doubled the number of psychiatrists and psychologists on duty in death row; they are on the alert for mood swings and to prevent suicides.

...."Many of these people have become extremely contemplative -- you're facing the hangman's noose and you're sitting there all day," said Aviva Futorian who has made frequent visits to condemned prisons as an activist with the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty. "A lot of them have found they have a mind, have learned to read and write . . . They become more mental where they used to be, many of them, totally physical. Now they're going back to this physical world and that's causing a lot of anxiety. It's going to be dangerous for a lot them."

© 2003 The Washington Post Company