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Visits from family and friend is always something very special for those of us on San Quentin Prisonís death row. Visiting is allowed three days each week. There are a relatively small number of visits allowed for those of us here on the The Row, during our scheduled visiting days. There are 50 visiting slots of two and half hours each, for death row Grade A visits. Visiting hours are between 8 AM and 2 PM. These fifty-two and half hour visiting slots are supposed to accommodate approximately 700 prisoners.

All visits have to be by appointment. This means those who visit have to call in to a special visiting phone number to schedule a visit seven days in advance. It is difficult to get through on this number and I have heard of people dialing it for two hours before finally getting though, only to find out all of the visits had been booked, so there were no more visits available for the following weekend.

If a visitor travels more than 250 miles to visit, they are allowed to write in for a pre-scheduled visit. They have to do this thirty to ninety days in advance. Of course, this includes visitors who have to travel all the way from Europe, Australia and other countries. These pre-scheduled visits are allowed every thirty days and because the distance and time constrains involved, these visits are double the time of regular death row visits. These are called pre-approved extended visits.

When a visitor who is approved to visit with a prisoner writes in to request a pre-scheduled visit they must wait until the prison visiting department approves the visit and enters the visiting times into the visiting computer. Once they do this, the visiting department sends a visit notification form with the relevant visiting time to the prisoner who the visits were approved for. It is the prisonerís responsibility to notify the visitor that they are approved to visit and what times.

The visitor must then arrange transportation and hotel accommodations near the prison for the days they will be visiting. Here is the run: after telling people, who spend thousands of dollars to fly halfway around the world, who must pay for food and lodging while they are here, who have to arrange for transportation to and from the prison, the prison DOES NOT have to allow these visitors to visit.

This is exactly what happened for a three-week period in August of this year to a number of prisoners had visitors who were told they would be allowed to visit. Visitors spend thousands of dollars and travelled halfway around world only to show up at the prisons front gate for their approved visits that they were told they could have, only to be told they would not be able to visit after all.

The prison Warden had decided the prison would go on lockdown, so there would be no regular visits allowed during the lockdown. The reason for the lockdown was to search the entire prison. Evidently the excuse for the search was because the prison found a note saying a gun was going to be smuggled into the prison. Since then, I have asked and from what I understand no one knows who wrote the note, or who was supposedly going to smuggle the gun into the prison. The ploy might have been believable except itís a variation of the same thing that happened a couple of years previously. The prison can and does use the excuse of prison security to justify things it knows are questionable, or unfair.

During this August lockdown, I personally know of three pre-scheduled visits which were approved, yet when the visitors showed up at the prison gate fully expecting to be seeing their loved one, they were turned away after being informed there would be no visits that day. Hey were instructed to call the prison each morning they were scheduled to visit to see if there would be visits for that day. This went on for three weeks.

I know two of these visitors and they were not wealthy They make only a living wage. They had saved and sacrificed for a few years to come and visit their friend. After spending all their savings and doing exactly what they were instructed to do, they were not allowed to visit when they did show up like they were told to do. The irony in all this, even though the prison deemed the security of the prison in jeopardy and none of those pre-scheduled visits could be allowed, they did allow visiting to remain open so visits with attorneys and other officials could take place. The prison also allowed the prisoners to go to medical appointments and other official business in the prison. It seems that basically it was only the regular visits which were cancelled.

It is one thing for the prison to punish us (the prisoners) but the families and friend of prisoners should not have to suffer or be punished for no real apparent reason. If attorneys are allowed to visit and other business in the prison is taking place, why wouldnít the prison allow people to visit who had been told they would be able to do so, and spent all of their savings to do so?


November 1, 2017


Dean Carter /C97919

San Quentin Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974