Since restoring the death penalty in 1978, California has condemned more than 900 individuals, yet executed just 13. The hundreds who remain are housed at San Quentin State Prison in a highly restricted cell block plagued by suicides, drugs, mental illness, neglect and idleness. This essay offers a glimpse at the lives, despair and deaths of condemned killers who wait decades for executions that never come. It questions the moral cost of such limbo.

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