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April 7, 2010

Column 49  

I started writing these more years ago then I care to think about. I never go back and re-read what I have written before. I suspect it is obvious in some of the things I write. I wrote a lot about what it was like, here on Death Row, when I first started writing these. Over the years there have been many changed. The Death Row I wrote about originally is not the Death Row of today. It seems almost all the changes that have been made are designed to take away, or to restrict what we had here on The Row. Not changes made to necessarily improve things.

There seems to be a real mean-spiritedness in many of the things that have changed. In fact, it seems mean-spiritedness has become the way of pretty much everything in here. When I first arrived here on Death Row there was a certain consideration and respect shown to each other by the guards and prisoners. I remember being asked what the guards are like and my reply was that most guards just want to do their job. That they treated the prisoners okay. That seems to be a rarity now. It seems to have become more antagonistic from both guards and prisoners. I canít say the guards are to blame for this. They are responsible for their individual behavior, but their behavior is ignored, or even encouraged, by their supervisors. I suppose when you are sitting where I am, your vision becomes a bit myopic about things like that, but it is what it seems like to me.

In the last year there has been the budget crisis here in California. The budget crisis has effected almost everything in the California prisons. I canít speak for the rest of the prisons, or even the rest of San Quentin Prison, since I donít have direct knowledge of it. Only what I see here on Death Row. One of the most noticeable changes has been the food.
About ten years ago Death Row went from having hot meals served from a hot car, to now having the meals dished onto trays in the prison kitchen and transported to death row. Now our food is all mixed together and cold. Since the budget crisis the prison stopped using meat, or uses very little meat. I have received meals with chicken or beef in it. As I poked though it, I would find maybe one or two fingernail sized pieces of meat. But very often, no meat at all. Instead the prison started using what is called protein supplement, made from soy, I think. No one I know eats this. It stinks and it ruins the taste of the other food it comes in contact with. Most people throw their meal away, except for what they are able to salvage that hasnít been contaminated by the protein supplement. I donít know how the state is saving money by using this protein supplement. There is two or three times the wasting of food now, then before this supplement was used. I suppose it looks good on paper. The prison can show the politicians they are saving money by using supplement.
 
I will go ahead and end this one here. In the future I want to talk about the problems we now have with our mail and also with our visits. I also want to talk about some of the changes to other programs in here. I donít plan to rehash all that I wrote about before. I just want to talk about how has changed, compared to when I wrote about these things before.

I thank you for spending a little time to read this. I hope to be back sooner rather then later.
Take good care and feel free to write me.

Best wishes.
Dean Carter

p.o. box C-97919
San Quentin Prison
San Quentin, California 94974