Commentary: Death Row Roach

Vanguard Incarcerated Press bannerBy Jason Davis

Randall Cash, 63, was arrested at age 25 and after a 7 years long trial was given the death penalty for murder. After serving ten years on death row at San Quentin, his execution day was set and he was planning his last meal. He confides, “I was ready for what was to come.” However, with only 30 days left there was a glitch. Attorneys he didn’t even know were working on his case had discovered a voir dire (jury instruction) error that suspended his execution date.

It took another 3 years until the court invalidated the death penalty. He was resentenced to life without parole in 2005 and moved to South Block at Quentin. On the mainline he now experienced the culture shock of prison politics and the convict code. Ironically, he missed death row. “A lot of those guys didn’t care about anything, including themselves,” Cash says. “I felt like things had gotten worse.”

It wasn’t long before he realized the mainline was toxic and no place to be. He transferred to High Desert, was there for 5 years then moved to Pleasant Valley, eventually arriving at Mule Creek. For the past 4 years he’s been working as an ADA caregiver, earned his GED, and graduated GRIP (Guiding Rage into Power). “With that LWOP hanging over me, even though I was programming, I knew I’d never see the light of day again.” That was until February 2023, and the “Letter of Hope.”

He received a letter regarding Penal Code section 1172.1 informing him that pre-1990 cases were under review in Alameda County, which opened the door for his LWOP sentence to be reduced to life, allowing him a chance to go before the parole board.

Cash reflects on all those years on death row and on the mainline and remembers the deep despair and how he’d given up hope. But hope hadn’t given up on him. Now his worries center on how he’ll fit in if given the chance.

He sees the world in a whole new light.

“I feel like I’m not ”Death Row Roach’ anymore, (a longstanding nickname), I’m Randy.”

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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