To the editor: The Times' description of the plight of California's convicted murders, languishing at San Quentin State Prison with no real prospects of execution, is quite moving. ("A revealing look at California's death row," Jan. 5)
The single-occupant cells seem unpleasant, and the lifestyle of the condemned appears constrained. The lack of what the fashion industry calls "pops of color" in prison design is troubling. One prisoner paces behind bars without purpose, while another who has only robbed, murdered and attacked corrections officers bemoans their insistence on restraints any time he must leave his cell.
An empty and unused execution chamber adds to the stifling atmosphere of hopelessness. One could almost expect to see Jean Valjean or the Count of Monte Cristo interviewed in an article like this.
All this seems intended to evoke regret, when we should instead be celebrating the effective end to the death penalty in California. Right?
Gary R. Albin, Long Beach
To the editor: This look inside California's death row is illuminating. The most obvious question is why are all these convicts still alive?
The juries that anguished over these inmates' fate would have or should have expected them to be executed in the next few years, not decades later.
Instead of the system California has now, we should ban capital punishment altogether and send these inmates to Pelican Bay or Folsom to spend their remaining years in "real" prisons. The cost difference is considerable, and the very rare case of a wrongly convicted person serving a life sentence will still make news.
Sol Taylor, Studio City