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Suicides surpass executions on death row

From the Associated Press

With the latest death at San Quentin State Prison, suicide has supplanted execution as the second leading cause of death on California’s death row.

The leading reason for inmate deaths is natural causes.

Tony Lee Reynolds’ death Sunday was the 14th suicide -- one more than the number of condemned inmates executed in California since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1978.

There are now 666 inmates on death row, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Executions have been halted for 16 months by a federal judge who ordered prison officials to revise lethal injection procedures to ensure that inmates don’t suffer unnecessarily.

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The moratorium will stay in place at least until construction of a new death chamber designed to address the judge’s concerns is completed.

San Quentin Prison spokesman Lt. Eric Messick said guards found Reynolds, 25, hanging from a bedsheet tied to his bunk bed Sunday night. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Reynolds had been sent to death row 30 days ago for the 2005 murder and rape of a pregnant woman in Riverside County.

The average stay on death row is 17 1/2 years, Messick said.


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