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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.

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These photos reveal just what it looks like to spend your days trapped in an outdated facility, within a broken system, where your only options are to wait and wonder.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

Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

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Pop Culture

13-year-old ventriloquist sings incredible, sassy version of 'You Don't Own Me' on 'AGT'

Ana-Maria Mărgean only started her hobby in 2020 and is already wowing audiences on "America's Got Talent."

America's Got Talent/Youtube

Ana-Maria Mărgean singing "You Don't Own Me" on "America's Got Talent"

It’s not every day a ventriloquist act is so jaw-dropping that it has to be seen to be believed. But when it does happen, it’s usually on “America’s Got Talent.”

Ana-Maria Mărgean was only 11 years old when she first took to the stage on “Romania’s Got Talent” to show off her ventriloquism skills, an act inspired by videos of fellow ventriloquist and “America’s Got Talent” Season 2 champion Terry Fator.

Using puppets built for her by her parents, the young performer tirelessly spent her quarantine time in 2020 learning how to bring them to life, which led to her receiving a Golden Buzzer and eventually winning the entire series in Romania.

Mărgean is now 13 and a competitor on this season of “America’s Got Talent: All-Stars,” hoping to be crowned the winner and perform her own show in Vegas, just like her hero Fator.

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Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

A person of color uses a crosswalk.

This article originally appeared on 11.01.17


You missed a study that illuminates the very real dangers of literally "walking while black."

In addition to rogue police officers targeting people of color on the street, a study from Portland State University found that drivers are less likely to stop for black pedestrians.

The study, a follow-up from one conducted in 2014, administered tests using identically dressed black and white volunteers attempting to cross the same intersection. The 2014 study revealed black male pedestrians waited 32% longer than white male pedestrians for cars to stop. The 2017 research expanded on these tests to include black and white women and marked versus unmarked crosswalks.

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Pop Culture

6 lessons in making life choices based on the wisdom of Warren Buffett

These are the six factors Warren Buffett says he considers when he's making big business decisions.

Warren Buffett speaking at the 2015 Select USA Investment Summit.

True
TD Ameritrade

This article originally appeared on

Warren Buffett isn't just rich. He's known for being ethical, straightforward, and wise. And also generous. Not just with his money but with his ideas.

Buffett straight up spelled out how he makes decisions on how to invest in and acquire businesses in a public letter sent to his shareholders. To be clear: His instincts and insights are what have made him such a rich man. And that's what he's sharing so openly with the world.

These are the six factors Warren Buffett says he considers when he's making big business decisions.

Maybe they could help the rest of us think through some tough decisions in our own lives? Let's see.

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Health

All hail the mocktail: Growing demand makes non-alcoholic socializing a lot more fun

Sober bars and events are growing in popularity with delicious, grown-up alternatives to alcohol.

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Non-alcoholic drinks go way beyond club sodas and Shirley Temples.

For as long as there's been alcohol, there have been people who don't drink it. Some don't care for the taste, some don't like the buzz, some have religious prohibitions against it and some are recovering addicts who need to avoid it altogether.

Whatever reasons people have for not drinking, there's an unspoken attitude by some that they're missing out on a key part of social culture, especially when countless movies and TV shows portrays people winding down (or wooing one another) with wine and bonding over beers at bars. There's an air of camaraderie over sharing a cocktail or clinking champagne flutes together that's hard to capture with a basic Coke or sparkling water.

But what if you want that fun, social atmosphere without the alcohol? What if you want to go out and have fancy, alcohol-free drinks with your friends at night without being surrounded by drunk people? Where do you go for that?

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