California’s death row out of room
March 31, 2015
With the state tied up in litigation and about 20 newly condemned men arriving yearly, California’s death row has run out of room. [LA Times]
Currently, there are 731 men and 20 women sentenced to death in California. Most of the male death row inmates are housed at San Quentin State Prison.
San Quentin’s death row can accommodate 715 inmates, and 708 of those beds are currently occupied. As part of his current budget proposal, Governor Jerry Brown has called for spending $3.2 million to create a second death row at San Quentin.
The proposal calls for transforming 97 cells at San Quentin to death row housing. Most of the funds would go to increasing staffing, and some of the money would be used to beef up security features at the prison.
A new law that requires the state to release low-level drug offenders and thieves will allow prison officials to make room for the second death row.
Critics say the plan does nothing to address California’s long-term death row issues.
The state has not executed anyone since 2006. That year, state and federal courts barred California from using its three-drug lethal injection protocol.
California is also facing a constitutional challenge to its death penalty system. A federal judge ruled last July that the appeals process is so slow that executions have become unlikely and random.
Since 2006, California’s death row population has increased from 646 to 571.