Eager for death-row sentence 

In October in Orange County, Calif., Billy Joe Johnson, who had just been convicted of murder as a hit man for a white supremacist gang, begged the judge and jury, in all sincerity, to sentence him to death. Johnson knew that those on California's death row get individual cells and better telephone access, nicer contact-visit arrangements, and more personal-property privileges than ordinary inmates. The Los Angeles Times reported that the state's spending per death-row inmate is almost three times that for other inmates. The current death-row census totals 685, but because of legal issues, only 13 have been executed since 1977 (compared to 71 death-row fatalities from other causes). In fact, Johnson was so eager to be put on death row that he tried to confess to two murders that no one yet knew about.

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