Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Killing of Polly Klaas

Overdose Mystery

On July 23, 2006, at 5:13 p.m., prison guards noticed that Richard Allen Davis was slumped over the toilet in his cell on San Quentin's Death Row. The unconscious Davis was rushed to the infirmary and revived, then taken to the hospital where he was found to have overdosed on opiates.

San Quentin Prison
San Quentin Prison

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle related that prison authorities immediately began an investigation into how Davis obtained the drugs and the reason for the overdose. The Chronicle related that a variety of possible sources are being examined including visitors, the mail, other inmates and prison employees. Davis had been allowed contact visits but is no longer as of this writing because he is the subject of an investigation. According to prison spokesman Vernell Crittendon, "He was not receiving medication prescribed to him that included opiates." The investigation has ruled out foul play. "No other person introduced the drug to him without his knowledge," Crittendon elaborates. "We also know that it was not a suicide attempt. We are still trying to determine how the drugs were smuggled in and exactly what type they were."

Davis was back in a cell by 9:00 p.m. of the same day he was found unconscious. The Chronicle quoted Crittendon as describing Davis' physical condition as "fine." He was placed in the Adjustment Center, a high-security cellblock for prisoners who are considered extremely dangerous and for those in need of special protection. It is an area in which he has often been placed. It is also called "Grade B" as opposed to the regular Death Row cellblock known as "Grade A."

Even by the standards of Death Row, Davis is a pariah. He is doubly damned both by the prisoners code that sees those who commit crimes against children as the lowest of the low and by the fact that his fellow inmates blame Davis for California's "three strikes and you're out law" which was passed in 1994 largely in response to Davis' murder of Polly Klaas.

In the more than a decade he has been on Death Row, Davis has been in two violent incidents. The first occurred soon after he arrived. "It was a fistfight with another Death Row inmate," Crittendon explains. The spokesman does not know who started the fight, explaining, "It was considered mutual combat." The second instance took place in 2005 in the infirmary with a reception center inmate. "Davis got punched," Crittendon says. "He was unable to fight because that punch knocked him out."


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