Inside Florida death row: What is prison life like for death row inmates?

Nearly 300 people have been sentenced and put to death in Florida over the last nine decades.

Florida's first known execution happened in 1927 when Frank Johnson was executed in Duval County for murder, according to Florida Department of Correction's website

As of early 2023, there are 299 people – 296 men and three women – on death row in Florida awaiting their sentencing to be carried out, according to FDOC's website. Some prisoners have offenses that date as far back as the 1970s.

Here is a brief look at what life is like for prisoners on death row:

The daily routine of a death row inmate

Death row inmates get served three meals a day: the first one at 5 a.m., the second one from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., and the third one from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The meals are served to inmates in their 6 x 9 x 9.5 feet high cells either at the Lowell Correctional Institution (for women) or the Union Correctional Institution (for men). 

Inmates who are awaiting execution following the signing of a death warrant by the governor are sent to a "Death Watch" cell that is 12 x 7 x 8.5 feet high. Before execution, an inmate can request a local last meal not to exceed $40.

They are also allowed to shower every other day. 


When it comes to security, death row inmates are counted at least once an hour. They are escorted in handcuffs and wear them everywhere except in their cells, the exercise yard, and the shower. 

They are in the cells all the time except for medical reasons, exercise, social or legal visits, or media interviews. When a death warrant is signed the inmate is put under Death Watch status and is allowed a legal and social phone call.

Can a death row inmate receive mail?

Inmates are allowed to receive mail every day except on holidays and weekends. They can have snacks, radios, and 13th televisions in their cells. They do not have cable television or air-conditioning, and they are not allowed to be with each other in a common room. They can watch church services on closed-circuit television. 

When an inmate transitions to death watch, they can have radios and televisions positioned outside their cell bars. 

Death row inmates also wear clothing that distinguishes them from regular inmates. They wear orange t-shirts. Their pants are the same blue-colored pants worn by regular inmates. 

Can a death row inmate get visitors?

People who wish to visit an inmate on death row must be approved before visitation is allowed. The Classification Officer responsible for the inmate at the inmate's assigned facility can answer all questions regarding an inmate's visiting days, visiting hours, and special visits. 

How many women are on death row in Florida?

There are three women who are currently on death row in Florida and are awaiting execution. 

  1. Tiffany Cole - She was sentenced to death on March 6, 2008, in Duval County after being convicted in the July 2005 kidnappings and murders of James and Carol Sumner in Jacksonville, Florida.
  2. Margaret Allen - She was sentenced to death on May 19, 2011, after being convicted in the kidnappings and death of her housekeeper, friend, and neighbor, Wenda Wright, in Brevard County in 2005.
  3. Tina Brown - Tina Brown was sentenced to death on September 28, 2012, and began serving her sentence on October 3, 2012. She was convicted in the brutal killing of Audreanna Zimmerman, who was shocked with a stun gun, beaten, and set on fire. Zimmerman then walked a third of a mile to get help, and ultimately died at the hospital days later.

How many men are on death row in Florida

There are 296 men who are on death row in Florida. 

Donald Dillbeck is set to be executed on Thursday for a 1990 murder. Dillbeck was sentenced to death on March 15, 1991.