SAN QUENTIN –
Last month Governor Gavin Newsom, announced that San Quentin State Prison — the oldest and most notorious prison in California and home to the largest “death row” in the United States — will be transformed from a maximum-security prison into a one-of-a-kind facility focused on improving public safety through rehabilitation and education. The prison, will be renamed “San Quentin Rehabilitation Center,” focused on teaching those incarcerated men who are on the verge of release how to live and succeed in modern society.
Newsom stated “We take the next step in our pursuit of true rehabilitation, justice and safer communities through this evidence-based investment, creating a new model for safety and justice, and safer communities through this evidenced-backed investment, creating a new model for safety and justice —the California Model—that will lead the nation,” Newsom announced from the grounds of San Quentin.
In an announcement last month, Newsom outlined with some enthusiasm, how his administration plans to “spin” corrections in California 180 degree by creating a “California model” institution, modeled on the Scandinavian concept of correctional facilities, adapted for the unique qualities of California society.
The Governor intends to accomplish this by not only a name change, but by physically modifying San Quentin, remodeling the old, condemned row cells and a currently vacant PIA warehouse " into a center for innovation focused on education, rehabilitation and breaking cycles of crime," Newsom's office said. The goal is the have the new facility re-made and operational by 2025 and comes with an initial price tag of $20 million.
San Quentin State Prison (SQSP) is a maximum security state prison for men run by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). It is located north of San Francisco in the San Quentin, California community, which overlooks the San Francisco Bay. San Quentin State Prison was the first permanent prison in California, making it the state's oldest prison. It was the largest death row facility in the state and conducted all of the state's executions. The historic Face-Lift effort at San Quentin, never pursued at this scale in the United States, it will serve as a nationwide evidence-backed model to advance a more effective justice system that builds safer communities. San Quentin is the state’s oldest penal institution, established in 1852 with a beginning population of 68 inmates. Long the home of death row, over the years the walls have witnessed 422 executions, including 15 women.
PRIOR NOTORIOUS LIFER INMATES:
Charles Manson (now deceased: died from cardiac arrest resulting from respiratory failure, brought on by colon cancer) —was the most famous inmate on San Quentin death row; convicted on seven counts of first-degree murder. Sirhan Sirhan—Robert Kennedy's assassin - mow serving a life sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego
Those inmates remaining in the death row quarters will be transferred to other facilities, as many condemned inmates have been over the last few years. The facility will become a largely Level II facility, with some individuals with higher points accepted on the basis of behavioral overrides, according to early reports. Initially, officials expect to see about 500 transfers out of San Quentin to other facilities throughout the state.
While the new programming at San Quentin (SQ) will focus on job training centers, life skills and is envisioned as a ‘last stop’ for those approaching release from prison (2 years pre-release time frames have been mentioned) administration officials have assured Lifers will not be excluded from the new version of SQ.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We can only hope that the real change will be accomplished by both the changes in the physical facility, programs offered, and the dedication of the inmates and the CDCR Staff to make the change really work. Time will Tell….