Death Row Inmates' Long Wait for Execution May Be Second Punishment

The AFP recently examined the time an inmate spends on death row between sentencing and execution and questioned if inmates are being punished twice with long-term imprisonment and execution. They found an average inmate spends 13 years on death row, with some spending 30 years or more. Craig Haney, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz and expert on prisoners held in isolation, said, "People on death row live under the threat of death, which is of course an extraordinary psychological trauma, and they are denied most of the ways that people make life in prison more tolerable: meaningful social activity, programming of any kind, activities." U.S. Supreme Court Justice John-Paul Stevens, in a case involving a prisoner who had spent 29 years on death row, wrote, "The delay itself subjects death row inmates to decades of especially severe dehumanizing conditions of confinement."

(L. Maladain, "For US death row inmates, a long wait for execution," AFP, April 18, 2010).  See also Death Row and U.S. Supreme Court.