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These 11 powerful photos offer a glimpse of life on death row.

It's been 10 years since California's last execution. But death row continues to grow.

These 11 powerful photos offer a glimpse of life on death row.

What began in 1852 as 20 acres of seaside land purchased for $10,000 is now known as San Quentin State Prison.

Today, the prison covers 432 acres, and it houses over 4,000 men, including hundreds of men who are on death row.

Visitors arrive at San Quentin State Prison in 2015. All photos by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.


At San Quentin, nearly 700 men live on death row.

It's the only correctional facility in California for condemned men. But there's a problem: There hasn't been an execution at San Quentin since 2006. That means that those hundreds of men are waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for their death sentences to be carried out — and some have been waiting for more than 10 years.

Why the wait? Legal challenges surrounding the cocktail of drugs used during lethal injections have put executions on hold. In November 2016, California voters will decide whether to eliminate the death penalty entirely or, at the very least, expedite the process. But until then, these men's futures hang in flux.

Regardless of where you stand on capital punishment, the current prison system is inarguably flawed.

While prison should remain a punishment, especially for the most dangerous offenders, keeping a future in the balance for literally decades at a time is borderline inhumane. The condemned inmates live in single cells, with limited access to fresh air or mental enrichment.

These photos reveal just what it looks like to spend your days trapped in an outdated facility, within a broken system, where your only options are to wait and wonder.

1.  Little has changed in San Quentin's East Block — where condemned inmates are held — since it was built in 1930.

2. Nothing is automated. Each cell is opened and closed by hand.

3. Unlike inmates in the general population, where men are kept two to a cell and have access to enrichment programs, inmates on death row spend most of their days alone.

4. If you think it's lonely and isolating, you're right.

4.  In their single cells, some write or draw.

5. Others study or read to pass the time.

6. Outside time is limited to four days a week, when inmates get access to an exercise yard.

7. There, they can workout.

8. Or pace.

9. Or just think.

10. There's always plenty of time for that.

11. After all, waiting is what they're on death row to do. The question is — for how long?

A Mickey Mouse clock marks the time, along with a little graffiti from someone with a cruel and unusual sense of humor.

And this isn't just California's problem — it's a problem everywhere.

Between sentencing and execution, inmates on death row can wait an average of 190 months. That's up from 74 months in 1984.

It's clear our corrections system wasn't built for this — unduly cruel sentences of indeterminate length in prisons more than a century old. Surely there's a way to get justice for victims and punish perpetrators without sacrificing our own humanity.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has limited group gatherings in many countries, putting a damper on the communal part of Ramadan. But for one community in Barcelona, Spain, a different faith has stepped up to make the after sunset meal, known as Iftar, as safe as possible for the Muslim community.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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