Daniel Wozniak’s Open Letter to Readers

(Editor’s note: What follows is a transcription, accompanied by images of the original typed letter from Daniel Wozniak. Typos, grammatical errors, and misspellings found in the original are reproduced in the transcription.)


Daniel Wozniak’s letter to blog readers, page one of two. Click to open a larger version.

To understand what’s happening a lesson in history is warranted. First when California VOTED to bring back the Death Penalty as a punishment it was done so by means of a Proposition [commonly known as the Briggs Initiative]; which was co-authored by a judge in Orange County! Poorly written…which essentially granted years of legal appeals for all the criminals sentenced to Death. The result of which has entirely clogged the judicial process; robbing the victims of THEIR due process, while you (the taxpayers) have now spent more than $4.5 BILLION DOLLARS ever since its implementation [with just 13 executions to show for!]

Skip ahead to 2016 where a measure which would essential try to ‘fix’ this Death Penalty Problem went on the ballot [PROP 62]. However, this failed to pass due to there being yet ANOTHER poorly written measure [PROP 66]: A bait-and-switch smoke screen giving the illusion of them speeding up the Death Penalty, but without so much as offing how they planned on solving the appellate ‘clog’; which meant the Courts simply shot it down. However, there were three other things that PROP 66 did:

(1) It lowered the cost for the taxpayers by not REQUIRING inmates to be HOUSED in the high-cost setting of San Quentin (Even though we all still have the same Death sentence). (2) It raised our restitution to 77% (from 55%) to pay off Victims Restitution Orders [Which mine is well over $65,000; ordered for ME to pay by no other than the FORMER Orange County District Attorney, Mr. Matt Murphy, himself!]. And (3) Since there was no way for inmates to pay this off, those who wanted to could volunteer to work in/at another prison (if they had no write ups in 5+ years) to pay off the OCDA & OC Court ordered restitution so the burden wouldn’t have to fall to our families and loved ones (who SHOULDN’T be left held responsible for our actions!)

So what am I now doing in Salinas Valley? Well, I’m doing exactly what California VOTED for me to do. So I feel it’s important to put ALL of this into context before everyone starts getting mad. Another thing to ask yourself is who sat on the planning commission making the decision and recommendations for how the Condemned Inmate Transfer Pilot Prog. [CTTPP] was to be implemented? Well, look no further than another fine wonderful person in Orange County – The Honorable Judge Prickett!

Now…I can see and understand why family members are angry (which I’m all but certain is VERY upsetting) but ever since I began this entire process I have continually asked what others would do if they found themselves in my position…and still to this day have not found one person who has been able to offer an answer that differs from the choices I continue to make on a daily basis. I have had and continue to welcome visits from my victims families anytime they wish to see me [I’m more than willing to sit down and allow them to vent ALL their anger, frustration and grief onto me. They more than deserve that right to do so]. I have accepted full responsibility for crimes which I can’t fathom ever being forgiven for! But don’t think for one minute that a day goes by that I don’t suffer living in a perpetual prolonged daily existence with the constant reminder that there’s absolutely NOTHING I can do to repair the damage my actions caused. I can only do the things which I fell CAN make some form of a meaningful difference.

Daniel Wozniak’s letter to blog readers, page two of two. Click to open a larger version.

Understand that nothing has REALLY changed. I’m still in-prison, I’m never leaving prison and…I will eventually face what I was, in fact, sentenced to and die within prison’s walls. This journey I have now found myself on really no longer has anything to do with me. My mind wrote myself off years ago. Living in prison and on Death Row for more than a decade leaves you faced with a daily paradox each and every morning: “If I’m already dead, why do I continue to wake up each day?”

Something you first need to forget about are those ridiculous notions that prison is filled with all these evil, hate-filled, dangerous and violent predators. (I blame Hollywood and those shock-factor (UN)True Crime TV Shows – which are comical in the way they stage and film all these embellished stereotypes). In REALITY…the prison population is just a bunch of guys who the world has abandoned; lost souls who have given up since they no longer believe they have any semblance of value whatsoever. They lack direction, think they have no purpose and think themselves to be all alone in this world. [Why wouldn’t they? Nobody truly cares whether they live or die!] Society no longer wants to deal with them so it’s simply easier and convenient for them to cast labels on them: “Scary, Dangerous, Evil, Monsters, etc.) Again, in REALITY.. being treated like that for so long takes most (if not ALL) fight out of them and leaves the majority in severe states of chronic depression

[You want a real “visual”?]: Tune in to any anti-depressant medication commercial. Do you ever see the sad guy in the bit all violent, angry and beating up everyone around him? NO! Most of the time you’ll be lucky if the dude has a reason to get out of bed in the morning. In all my time I’ve known just a couple of fatal attacks in prison; all of which were active gang members handling a ‘snitch’. Yet I’ve known (personally) AT LEAST 50 who have died either by suicide, overdose or medical issues. THIS the sad reality that prison truly is…THIS is the Real Problem that nobody is doing nearly enough about!

I hope you don’t think me to be insensitive to what people “out there” think of me. I’m sorry they feel that way and would gladly take on their burden if there were such a way to do so. Nobody’s quite figured out how to accomplish that yet (but please let me know if you do). At this point I don’t know how to change their warranted feeling for me. But for now I do find myself in a position of doing something unprecedented that’s never been done before. This PROP 66 action CITPP is complete uncharted territory (for everybody). It’s still prison!

I can only continue doing what I feel is the right thing to do at this point. The one thing that prison lacks is HOPE; especially for those who don’t truly deserve to even be here [NOT ME!]. To create it sometimes you have to be the change you want to see. It’s now become both the reason & answer to my daily paradox: To bring light where you only seem to find forgotten darkness. If it’s changing and making a difference in the lives of many others in here, whom the world has forgotten and wants nothing more to do with – I’M SORRY! But I do not see the value in ceasing what I’ve been doing for years now, if it now seems to upset some people who are ALWAYS going to hate me NO MATTER WHAT! People in here need to know that they should continue to have something to hope for and the more who know this fact, the better off this whole thing will be for everyone. I’m only one man and don’t presume to think I can fix this…but it continues to be a problem that exists and I’m in a position to actually do something about it! Making a difference is one of the few living amends I can offer for the damage I’ve caused.

(Editor’s note: End of transcription.)

I hope readers found this interesting. I promise to pass your substantive comments on to Daniel… as long as they are not just hopes for Daniel’s death and the like.

Addendum, September 14, 2021

I recently had direct contact with a reader who would like to remain anonymous but had some interesting and informative questions and comments about Daniel Wozniak’s letter to readers. This reader does have a strong personal connection to this case.

This person pointed out that Daniel used the word “fix” when discussing California’s Proposition 62, but the removal of the death penalty in California would not be a fix for the many people who support keeping the death penalty.

The anonymous commenter also wanted to make sure people understand that Proposition 66 was, overall, meant to speed up the legal process so death row inmates wouldn’t have years and years of appeals. Allowing DR inmates to transfer to other prisons so they could have jobs is actually just “cherry picking” from the less important point of the proposition.

The reader also wondered why death row inmates were moved from San Quentin to be able to work, but didn’t already have jobs set up before even leaving DR? They asked, “It is true that Daniel still has not been assigned a job at Salinas Valley State Prison, but he is enjoying the benefits of not sitting on death row?”

What irked the anonymous reader the most was Daniel’s comment that he has “accepted full responsibility” for his crimes.  According to the reader, “It’s obvious that Daniel has not been honest with the police about the involvement of other people in the murders of Sam Herr and Julie Kibuishi. And until Daniel comes completely clean about all the details of the killings and who was involved – he has no right to claim he’s accepted full responsibility.”

Daniel Has Left San Quentin – Part Two

Daniel Wozniak has been sending me detailed letters about the move from San Quentin since he arrived at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP). I’m probably not the only one interested in a first person look into this strange world, so here you go:

MON 07/12
Right on cue I woke up a little after 1AM. I made myself a strong cup of coffee and got myself ready before packing my remaining items up that had not been TRANS-PACKED [Fan, TV, Cables, Folders, Books, etc. All the miscellaneous hygiene and extras I was not going to be taking with me I set aside in a separate bag (to be dropped off at one of my neighbors upon leaving.

At 4:30AM, I began hearing CO’s rolling property carts on the tier’s above me – collecting everything from the other 19 guys who were also transferring out with me. They finally came to my door around 4:45 AM and told me to leave my property on my bed. He cuffed me up & walked down to one of the holding cells downstairs. All my neighbor’s were up (surprisingly) and all of them bid me a pleasant farewell. WOW!

They had taken the first group of guys over to R+R and the rest of us would be brought over when the next watch came on (5:30-6:00). While in the hold cells I talked to a few of the guys I knew & asked if they were told where they were going. Like me, to one had been told. At 6:00, they finally came and escorted us over. I remember thinking that this was the last time I would be walking this path I normally made going to group(s) each week. Then we passed the building & kept on walking. I hadn’t been on this new path for nearly 5 years. I was oing back out the same way I first came in. Along the way I finally got to see and have a deeper appreciation for the “Dungeon” (the very first building constructed at San Quentin). We kept walking and made it all the way down to the R+R Building.

MON 07/12 cont.

They finally opened all our doors and we were escorted out single file and brought out to the bus. Before boarding they asked up to convirm our CDCR# and then placed us in these ‘specialized’ cuffs with hinges in lieu of chains. The bus was divided into 3 different sections and 4 ‘TOTAL SEP’ caged seates (for ‘ACTIVES’). The 1st area consisted of a bench on the left (which sat 3). The 2nd section was on the right & had 3 rows of 2 individual seats (side-by-side). Then the 3rd zone in the very back of the bus contained 8 double person seats (4 on each side) This is where I sat and since there were only 7 of us left each of us goat an entire bench to ourselves. Hence, it was a very comfortable ride the entire way (to our still unknown destination).

Day to Day Life at Salinas Valley State Prison

I’ve gotten eight fat letters from Daniel, and we’ve been talking regularly on the telephone. It definitely seems like day-to-day life for the inmates at SVSP (at least in his unit) is a big step up for the nineteen men who transferred from San Quentin and death row.

His telephone usage has become a bit more of a free-for all. At San Quentin, Daniel would sign up for a specific time period and a guard would bring a telephone to his cell. He would call me and call his mom. The calls were fifteen minutes each, and he could call two times.

At SVSP, telephone time looks like it does on TV and in the movies. There are two telephones in the unit’s day room. Daniel has to wait in line and return to the back of the line after each call.

The Day Room

A Salinas Valley State Prison Day Room (sketch by Daniel Wozniak) – Click or tap to make bigger

He’s on a tier with about fifty other inmates. They all have access to the day room at some point every day.

The day room isn’t just for phone calls. It also has six single-man shower units, two televisions, and there are tables where inmates visit and play cards, eat, and whatnot.

Daniel is currently living alone in a two-person cell because the prison is still operating under some COVID-19 restrictions and there is currently no need to double up.

Inmates can actually be out of their cells from 9:00 am – 3:30 pm on weekdays. In order to leave their cell, an inmate flicks their light switch, a signal to the guard to press a button that opens the cell door.


As far as food is concerned, the inmates at SVSP get hot and, according to Daniel, pretty delicious food which is either served in a cafeteria setting. Alternately, hot food is brought to the cells.

At about 6:30 I looked out to see a work crew assemble a little min-serving station table and began to distribute the hot portions into these solid trays in assembly line unison. When the trays reached the end workers/runners began bringing each tray to every cell one by one until everyone was fed. It’s been awhile since having a hot breakfast

  • Scrambled Eggs, Hash Browns, Cinnamon Oatmeal, 2 bananas & milk.

Like the night before, when finished they came back around to collect the trays & trash from everyone. The worker who collected mine paused

The Yard

The Salinas Valley State Prison Yard (sketch by Daniel Wozniak) – Click or tap to make bigger

There are many activities available on the large and well-stocked yard. There’s a basketball court, and a soccer field. They have weights available to them in the prison gym.

However, I personally think there would be only four reasons to spend time on the yard: Their names are Kevin (a mocha-colored lab mix), Paloma (who Daniel describes as a “terrieresque furball,”) an aptly-named black lab, Chocolate, and Trixie, the tiny yet terrifying chihuahua. They all have training time out in the yard. Some of the dogs who go through the program are there to learn how to be ESAs (emotional support animals) and others are there to help make them more adoptable.

And since I wrote this – I’m happy to report that Trixie has graduated from the program and has probably gone on to be someone’s emotional support animal.


Seven days a week, inmates have a wide variety of support groups and informative classes they can attend. The list Daniel sent me included drumming, mariachi, meditation and an improv class. There were also AA and NA groups conducted in English and Spanish, and a group that works to help inmates understand the grief their victims have suffered because of their actions. The prison also offers various vocational training courses since many of these inmates are not serving life sentences and hope to find “honest” work when they are released.

There is no doubt that Daniel is more comfortable and has more freedom now. It’s a big improvement from San Quentin. No one can deny that.

It’s still a prison, though. When an alarm sounds (which happens a couple times every day) he’d better sit down immediately and not move until he’s instructed. Daniel still has no real control over his present life, and he doesn’t have much control over his future. I don’t envy his life, but at least he’s living in a place that is somewhat less terrible. I am personally happy that he’s “being treated humanely,” to quote one of my close friends.

Reactions to the Move

When I learned Daniel had been moved out of San Quentin and wrote the previous blog post, I contacted Steve Herr, Sam Herr’s father, before I posted it. I have great respect for Steve and Raquel Herr, and I try my best to be conscious of their feelings regarding my blog, my yet-to-be-published book, and my friendship with Daniel.

Steve returned the favor by letting me know about an Orange County Register story about Daniel’s move a day before it had been published. Steve was quoted in the article, which you can read here.

Daniel learned about the article from his family, who learned about it from his attorney. As Daniel told it, no one thought it was a particularly good idea to make his change of location public. He asked me to send him a copy of the story, and I did.

Coming Soon: Direct Word from Daniel Wozniak

After reading it, he decided he wanted to clearly explain to my readers why he was moved to another prison. He asked if I’d be willing to post something from him directly without editing it. I agreed, sight unseen. I’m writing a blog and a book about this person, so, in for a penny, in for a pound. I’ll post Daniel’s letter once it arrives, and I’m sure he’ll get some reply comments.

Oh and Hey Also the Book…

I had a commenter recently ask me about my book because I didn’t mention it in the last post. I just figured you were all probably getting tired of hearing me say things like “I had no idea this book would take so long to write” or “I could write a book about what’s it has been like to write this book.”

But don’t worry everyone, I’m plugging away. Thank you for reading the blog