On Jan. 17, 2006, the last death row prisoner from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was executed, ending a century-long practice of capital punishment in the state.
From 1893 to 2006, the state of California executed 513 prisoners by use of hanging, lethal gas and lethal injection, according to CDCR records.
After 23 years and 1 month on death row, 76-year-old Clarence Ray Allen would become the final California death row prisoner to be executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison.
Allen was sentenced to death on Dec. 2, 1982, after being convicted of three counts of first-degree murder with special circumstances and one count of conspiracy. He was charged in connection with the homicides of Bryon William Schletewitz, Douglas Scott White and Jospehine Linda Rocha.
But before he was put on death row, Allen had already been sentenced to life in 1978 for burglarizing a Fresno grocery store and ordering the murder of someone who knew about the crime.
While serving his sentence at Folsom State Prison he met Billie Ray Hamilton. With Hamilton’s help, Allen plotted to kill the people who informed against him during his trial.
Hamilton, with the assistance of his girlfriend Connie Barbo, returned to Fran’s Market in Fresno, which Allen had robbed in 1974. Hamilton shot and killed Bryon Schletewitz, who testified against Allen, and shop clerks Douglas White and Jospehine Rocha.
For a last meal Ray had Buffalo steak; Kentucky Fried Chicken, all white meat; frybread; pecan pie (sugar free); black walnut ice cream (sugar free) and whole milk.
Allen’s final words were:
First of all, I’d like to say how good the last meal was, how much I enjoyed it and how much I love my family and friends who have stood by me all these years. I’d also like to thank my friends from Europe who have written to me and my spiritual advisor Richard Williams, one lady, Henny Ripp from Holland, and another lady from Italy, Christine Kaufmann, who I gave an Indian name of Morning Sun, and she’s been that to me, and all of the inmates on death row that I’m leaving behind that they will be joining me one day.
One good friend I’ve got that I hate to leave behind who’s been my neighbor for 20 years is Ward Weaver.
And all of my family that was here to visit me during this period, I love you very much for being with me during this time.
My last words will be, ‘Hoka Hey, it’s a good day to die.’ Thank you very much. I love you all. Goodbye.
Allen was pronounced dead at 12:38 a.m. after his lethal injection began at 12:20 a.m.
As of February 2022 there were more than 700 prisoners on death row at San Quentin State Prison, making it the largest death row in the United States.
San Quentin, California’s oldest prison, opened in July 1852 and was the state’s only death row for male inmates. Since the CDCR began documenting executions in 1893, 412 men and four women were killed in the various chambers and gallows of San Quentin.
Between 1968 and 1991 the state of California did not conduct any death row executions.