Americas killing machine jail – behind the bars of worlds deadliest Death Row

America's largest Death Row unit is located in the San Quentin prison in California and can count amongst its intake some of the most vicious criminals in existence.

Included in the world's most grotesque yearbook would be monsters like 'Night Stalker' Richard Ramirez and infamous serial killer Charles Manson.

"The Arena", as inmates call it, is the oldest prison in California and the largest death row in America where 421 condemned men have been executed by gas, noose or needle since 1893, reports the Mirror.

As with most other places in the States, executions in the prison are now carried out solely by lethal injection.

Currently, the unit has 737 residents who are still technically under sentence of death, but are being moved away from the condemned cells of San Quentin following an executive order from Governor Gavin Newsom.

He put a temporary stop to executions in California, which means inmates such as wife-killer Scott Peterson will be transferred into the general prison population and will not face death for as long as Newsom is governor.

San Quentin first made a merciless name for itself back in 1893, when the first of 215 prisoners were hanged from its gallows.

Since then, the likes of Charles Manson have stalked its hallways, as well as William Bonin who murdered at least 21 men and boys.

Murderous 'Night Stalker' Richard Ramirez was caged in its unforgiving cells after he was convicted of raping, torturing and killing at least 13 people.

He also was convicted of sodomy, oral copulation, burglary and attempted murder and sentenced to death in 1989.

However, Ramirez was never executed.

He died from complications of B-Cell lymphoma in 2013 after spending 23 years on death row.

The prison has been a home for some of the world's most notorious criminals, but none have served for as long as convicted murderer Douglas Ray Stankewitz.

He has lived at the prison for more than 43 years in a roughly four-by-10-foot cell, convicted of kidnapping and murdering a young woman named Theresa Greybeal in 1978.

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Stankewitz suddenly shot the 21-year-old girl in the head after he and his friends had stolen her car and driven around with her as a captive.

He has pleaded not guilty throughout the course of his sentence.

The most recent execution took place in 2006.

Clarence Ray Allen, 76, lost his vision and was confined to a wheelchair when guards prepared him for the lethal combination of drugs.

They restrained his arms and legs to the table before giving him the fatal injection.

Clarence, who was already serving a life sentence for one murder, was convicted again for organising the killing of three more people from within prison.

He spent 23 years at San Quentin.

In April 1967, condemned cop killer Aaron Mitchell slashed his forearm with a piece of metal and reopened his wounds right before his execution, proclaiming the blood to be that of Jesus Christ.

He smeared blood on his palms and stood naked in the crucifixion pose, saying he was "going to save the world".

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Then, 25 years later, Robert Alton Harris was executed by poisonous gas in the nicknamed “smokehouse”.

He had murdered two 16-year-old San Diego boys after robbing a bank, telling them to "stop crying and die like men" before flicking their flesh off his gun.

The biggest killer within the prison walls was, however, not a man.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, at least a dozen death row inmates passed away from the virus – more than the state has put to death in about 30 years.

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