Introduction Before the Killing Stopped



When I started work at San Quentin in 1947, I was employed as a psychiatric social worker in the prison hospital. The Chief Psychiatrist, my immediate superior, had a wide variety of assignments for me, but one on which he set great store was the preparation of psychiatric social histories of the men who were admitted to Condemned Row. They had to be seen as soon as possible after their arrival—“while they were still labile,” as the Chief liked to explain. By that he meant that they would be responsive to my inquiries and not influenced by the other condemned men, by their lawyers (of whom the Chief had a low opinion), or by their families. As soon as the newly admitted condemned man had had a physical examination, I was to make haste to the Row and conduct my interview.


Capital Punishment Correctional Officer Death Penalty Case Chamber Door Previous Commitment 
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© Ernest van den Haag and John P. Conrad 1983

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