There are really two death rows in Florida: one for the men, located at the Florida State Prison and Correctional Institution in Raiford, and a separate facility for the women at the Broward Correctional Facility in Fort Lauderdale. As of today’s date, there was one woman on Florida’s Death Row and 391 men.
(Who is the only woman on Florida’s Death Row? Tiffany Cole, a 27 year old female who was convicted of the kidnapping and murder of a retired Florida couple and sentenced to death for the killing of each victim (receiving two death penalty sentences).)
The Florida Department of Corrections actually provides a virtual tour of a Death Row prison cell, so you can see the tiny area in which these prisoners reside. Measuring 6′ (width) x 9′(depth) x 9.5′ (height), these cells are where those sentenced to death live – by themselves, they do not share a cell – until it is time for their death sentence to be carried out. Then, they are moved to the Death Watch cell, which is close to the execution site. The Death Watch cell is slightly larger than the Death Row cell.
Those individuals living on Death Row get three meals a day. Breakfast is at 5 a.m., dinner is over by 4:30 p.m. Lunch is somewhere around noon. They can only use spoons to eat their food, which is served to them on cafeteria trays. The food is prepared at the prison cafeteria.
A prisoner facing execution does get a last meal. However, it cannot cost over $40.00 and the food has to come from somewhere in the local area.
Death Row inmates don’t get to visit with other prisoners in a common room; they stay in their small cells almost 24/7, 365 days a year. They wear handcuffs everywhere except their cells (and the shower), and their wardrobe consists of orange shirts and blue pants. (Color-coding of prison uniforms helps to easily identify a Death Row inmate by his orange shirt; other prisoners wear blue ones).
The people on Death Row sleep in their cells, eat in their cells, relieve themselves in their cell’s metal toilet, smoke cigarettes, read, watch television, write letters, read letters, and otherwise pass their time within their small cells, where there is no true privacy. Guards check on them at least once an hour, and one wall of the cell is made of bars, where inmates across the hall as well as guards walking the hallway can easily see inside the inmate’s confined space.
Death Row inmates take showers every other day, they get mail every weekday (not on weekends or holidays), and they can have small televisions (13″) in their cells. They don’t get cable. They can have radios. They can have snack food in their cells. They can smoke cigarettes in their cells (and most of them do). They cannot attend religious services, but they can watch church services on closed-circuit television.
Visits to a Death Row inmate must be approved by the prison officials as well as the Death Row inmate. No contact is allowed with a Death Row inmate during any visit.
Perhaps the best way to envision life on Death Row is to learn from someone who lives there. Ronald W. Clark, Jr., writes about his Death Row experience in a short essay entitled, “Welcome to My World.” It is telling. (Ron Clark waits execution on Florida’s Death Row today.)