California Takes Steps To Dismantle the Largest Death Row in the US

(CALMATTERS) – With Newsom’s recent budget blueprint topping $286 billion, you’d be forgiven for missing a $1.5 million request to dismantle San Quentin’s Death Row and transfer condemned inmates to other state prisons. The proposal, first reported by the Associated Press, aligns with Newsom’s adamant opposition of capital punishment: “I think premeditated murder is wrong in all its forms and manifestation, including government-sponsored premeditated murder,” Newsom said at his Monday press conference. The governor in 2020 took the unprecedented step of filing a court brief challenging California’s application of the death penalty, a year after he declared a moratorium on the practice.

Nevertheless, Newsom insisted Monday that his plans to repurpose Death Row are consistent with a ballot measure California voters approved in 2016 to accelerate executions. The measure included little-noticed provisions allowing “the state to house condemned inmates in any prison” and requiring all prisoners sentenced to death to “work while in state prison.”

  • Newsom: “The voters upheld the death penalty,” but “I don’t think many understood … when they affirmed the death penalty, they also affirmed a responsibility for (the state prison system) to actually move that population out of Death Row and to get them working.”
  • Nina Salarno, president of Crime Victims United of CaliforniaNewsom is “pouring more salt on the wounds of victims.”