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Life in cell regulated

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Except for four hours each day, Michael Dean Overstreet is confined by himself to a 115-square-foot cell.

He can’t interact with other inmates or communicate with the outside world, except for during a designated time each morning.

Meals are brought to inmates’ cells, where they eat alone.

Life on death row follows a strict schedule. A total of 13 men sentenced to death, including Overstreet, are housed at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, and they don’t come into contact with other inmates at the prison, prison spokeswoman Pam James said in an email.

Overstreet has lived there since being sentenced to death in 2000 for the abduction, rape and murder of Franklin College freshman Kelly Eckart.

The schedule is simple. Starting at 6 a.m., inmates are released in small groups into a recreational area, where they can take a shower, make phone calls or send emails. They can go outside into an area only for death row inmates.

After four hours, they are sent back into their cells.

Their cells — a 10-foot by 11-foot-8-inch room — typically are pretty bare. They have a bed, toilet and some shelves.

But an inmate can buy items to keep in the cell, such as a fan, TV, video game console or DVD or CD player. Inmates are allowed to buy those items, which are then brought to them about two weeks later, James said.

Inmates can borrow books, CDs and DVDs from the prison library, which will be brought to them on death row, James said.

They also have an opportunity to care for a cat from a local animal shelter, which is a program Overstreet participated in for seven years. About 75 inmates care for animals daily, James said.

“The program saves the lives of the animals, and the offenders are allowed to have something to care for, love. The animals give unconditional love to the offenders. It is a win-win situation,” James wrote in the email.

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