Life on Death Row: What it’s like to live on San Quentin’s Death Row, Part 1

Scott Peterson (center)


MARIN COUNTY (KRON) — San Quentin’s Death Row houses some of the most notorious inmates in the country.

And it is rare that the media is allowed inside with open access to talk to any of them. After years of requesting entry, KRON’s Alecia Reid had the opportunity to go in and talk to both inmates and staff.

Most people have probably never been to prison, let alone the cell block that houses death row inmates. These men were all convicted of brutal crimes, and they are simply waiting to be executed.

San Quentin State Prison is nestled on the shores of San Francisco Bay in Marin County. And some of California’s most dangerous criminals call this place home.

Over 700 sit on death row.

“I confessed, I plead guilty. And I’ve said from the outset that I deserve capital punishment…,” death row inmate Steve Livaditis said.

Some notorious California killers are locked up there. One was the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez.

He was a serial killer, rapist, and burglar. He died of cancer in 2013.

Wesley Shermantine is another. He is one of the Speed Freak Killers.

Richard Allen Davis kidnapped and killed 12-year-old Polly Klaas. He is the reason for California’s Three Strikes law.

And Scott Peterson, probably the most recognized death row inmate, is also on San Quentin’s Death Row. In 2002, he brutally murdered and dismembered his wife Laci and their unborn son, Conner.

He dumped their remains in San Francisco Bay. It’s a story that gripped the nation. He was convicted and sentenced to die by lethal injection.

More than a decade later, Petersen is just another inmate. He was seen hiding behind a hat and shades as KRON cameras were rolling.

Scott Peterson (center)
Scott Peterson (center)

Sitting in his tiny cell, Douglas Clark, also known as the Sunset Strip Killer, is in death row too. He and his girlfriend were convicted of a series of gruesome murders targeting prostitutes in Los Angeles back in the early 1980s. He said he didn’t do it.

“Severed head of the girl, semen, and sperm–A Positive donor, I’m O Positive,” Clark said. “I have alibis for two other murders, no problem, so I can win. That’s why I’ve been 23 years in federal court and haven’t moved an inch.

With barely room between the bed and the wall, there’s a limited amount of room to move around in these cells. And even with this solid door protecting Alecia from the inmates, she still had to wear a Teflon vest and plastic face mask.

Guards took no chances when it came to protecting Alecia and themselves from any harm.

Outside Steve Livaditis said he’s a changed man. But that was a much different story 30 years ago.

“I didn’t care for other people’s lives,” Livaditis said.

He robbed a Beverly Hills jewelry store and killed three employees.

“I was an evil person. I don’t know any other way to put it,” Livaditis said.

Livaditis calls himself evil and said he deserves his punishment. He and Scott Peterson share the same yard.

And you might be surprised, a small group has certain freedoms the other inmates do not.

KRON will tackle that part of the story Tuesday night and dig a little deeper into the lives of the men stranded on death row.

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