J.A. Ferretti; Death Row Inmates' Last Escort

Associated Press

Former San Quentin prison guard Joseph A. Ferretti, who escorted 126 prisoners to the gas chamber, has died at 87.

Ferretti stayed with the inmates on their final night, playing cards, getting them whatever they wanted for dinner and bringing them cigarettes.

Then, just before 3 a.m. the next morning, Ferretti would walk with them to the gas chamber.

"I'd strap them in and pat them on the leg," the retired guard said in an interview last year.

Ferretti, who died Sept. 12, worked at the prison for 29 years, mostly as a guard at the East Gate.

His son, Gene Ferretti, said he was not sure how his father became the inmates' usher on their last night.

"As far as I know, they asked him if he was interested. It was a little more money to raise his family," he said. Ferretti also said his father received letters from relatives of executed prisoners "thanking him for taking care" of their loved ones during their last hours.

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