No More Room on San Quentin's Death Row

It's essentially full, governor warns
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2015 12:26 PM CDT
In this photo taken July 8, 2014, is San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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(Newser) – California Gov. Jerry Brown has submitted his $113 billion budget proposal, and in it he notes that, on average, 20 new felons are expected to show up per year on death row in San Quentin State Prison, the Los Angeles Times reports. One problem: There's no more room. With executions at a standstill for almost 10 years and each of the 715 death-row vacancies more or less accounted for, Brown is asking for $3.2 million out of the budget to expand the facility by opening up almost 100 more cells that have been recently vacated by lower-level criminals in the prison's South Block. Although the 20 women on California's death row are housed in a separate maximum-security facility, 708 of the 731 men waiting for their day of reckoning are housed at San Quentin; the other 23 are currently in other California prisons for court dates, jailed in other states, or in medical facilities, the Times notes.

No one's been put to death in California since Clarence Ray Allen in 2006, when the state halted all executions. Sentenced convicts keep filtering in, though, as the state hashes out its capital punishment issues in the courts. A 2010 planned execution was blocked by both state and federal courts due to lethal injection concerns, and a federal judge ruled in 2014 that California's death penalty was "unconstitutional," often leaving inmates languishing for decades, CNN has noted; the CDCR says the average time spent on Cali's death row is 17.5 years. The money Brown's seeking would go toward staffing, security, and revamping South Block facilities, such as making showers shackle-friendly, the Times notes. "Until the litigation is resolved, this cost-effective proposal allows [the state corrections department] to safely house condemned inmates going forward," a corrections department spokesman said last week, per the Times. (A Japanese death row inmate was set free after 48 years.)

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