Scott's Life Behind Bars

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 26, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Back of the Book" segment tonight, as you may know, Scott Peterson (search) faces the death penalty for killing his wife Laci and their unborn child. He's currently at San Quentin state prison in California on Death Row. Question: what does he do all day?

Joining us now from San Francisco is Vernell Crittendon, the public information officer for San Quentin Prison (search).

OK. You've got him, I understand, by himself, pretty much isolated right now, correct?


O'REILLY: And what does he do all day long?

CRITTENDON: Well, much of the day he spends by himself, eats his meals alone. We do have various processes that we are putting him through, some classifications. Some mental health staff are making assessments of him. Correctional counselors are interviewing him.

But generally he's spending most of the day alone. He — the Friday before last, he qualified for exercise. And he goes out to a small enclosure by himself, about eight foot by 10 foot. And he's allowed to exercise, and he's done that about — two or three times he's out to that exercise yard.

O'REILLY: How long is he allowed to stay out there?

CRITTENDON: He stays out for about four but not more than five hours.

O'REILLY: So it's a good period of time you're letting him out, get some fresh air, walk around. Does he have a television set in his cell, a radio in there?

CRITTENDON: Yes, after he went to committee, around April 1, he was allowed to get personal property, so he has a 13-inch television screen. He has a small portable C.D. player, and I believe that's the only items he has in there, other than mail and some books that he may have.

O'REILLY: All right. So he's allowed — what about the book situation? Does he request books from the library? How does he get books in there?

CRITTENDON: Well, yes, we have a pocket library in our Death Row (search). And he can get the books from the pocket library. We've also had books that have been mailed in, paperback books that meet our criteria that have been mailed in.

O'REILLY: All right. But you don't let him have any pornography or any violent stuff or anything like that, right?

CRITTENDON: No, nothing like that.

O'REILLY: OK. Now, you were telling me in the break that he has a couple of pictures on his wall. What are those pictures?

CRITTENDON: Yes. He has two — only two photos that he has taped to his wall. A photograph of Laci in her wedding gown, and a second photo right next to it of Laci, as well. And those are the only two photos that he has opted to place on his wall.

O'REILLY: How much mail does he get on a weekly basis?

CRITTENDON: Well, it varies day to day. I monitor his mail. He will get 25 pieces of mail. I've seen one day the highest is when he received 85 pieces of mail in one day.

O'REILLY: That's a lot of mail. What's going on? Who's writing to him?

CRITTENDON: Well, it's a real cross-section of America writing to him. There is a segment of hate mail that he receives. A large portion of spiritually based mail that he receives. Some of it — and not very much, but some has been romantic type mail.

All of the mail generally is from people that did not know Scott Peterson before he was given the death sentence.

O'REILLY: So he's got no friends or family writing to him, as far as you know?

CRITTENDON: Well, he does, but, I mean, they are a small part of that mail that is coming in.

O'REILLY: All right. You read all his mail before he gets it, right?

CRITTENDON: Well, yes, his mail — we will scan all of the mail that he receives, and not just Scott Peterson, but we're doing that with a number of our Death Row inmates.

O'REILLY: Are you worried that if he gets in proximity of other prisoners, they will hurt him?

CRITTENDON: No. There's been no indication that there's any threat on Death Row, but that's what we're going through this assessment for right now, to determine who would be the best group of compatible Death Row inmates that we will be able to assign him to, that he'll spend the rest of his life with.

O'REILLY: All right. So you're going to down the road going to try to get him — you're not going to put anybody else in a cell with him, are you?

CRITTENDON: No, he'll — he'll spend the rest of his life alone for most of the day.

O'REILLY: Right. But you'll get him...

CRITTENDON: Eighteen hours out of the day.

O'REILLY: You'll get him in a cellblock where he can have conversations with people and things like that. But you know, you always run the risk, just like Jeffrey Dahmer (search), Mr. Crittendon, of somebody knifing him.

CRITTENDON: Well, I don't think that ever happened. I think the closest we got was with Richard Allen Davis (search). You know, that's where he got attacked. He got punched in the face by another Death Row inmate while out exercising with him.

O'REILLY: Right.

CRITTENDON: But other than that, we haven't really had any serious injuries.

O'REILLY: Yes, San Quentin has had a very good safety record along those lines. But you've got to watch this guy Peterson.

Mr. Crittendon, thanks very much. We really appreciate the update.

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