San Quentin prison: California’s largest death row closed

Status: 02/01/2022 11:29 am

The death penalty has been suspended in California since 2019. Governor Newsom now wants to close the largest death row in the US state. The prisoners are to be moved to other prisons and the building used differently.

By Marcus Schuler, ARD Studio Los Angeles

San Quentin Prison’s death row is the largest in the United States. Almost 600 prisoners sentenced to death are held here. Codemnded Row – the house of the convicts – is written in large letters on the door in front of the East Block. Those incarcerated in the five-story building will only leave the California prison system dead. Life here means a lifetime. “I’ve been here for 35 years. I came here when I was 19,” says Jaress Masters.

The cells of those condemned to death are 3.80 meters long and 1.37 meters wide. They have no windows, light only enters through the bars of the doors. San Quentin began operations in 1852. San Francisco is only a few miles away.

Newsom opposes the death penalty

California Governor Gavin Newsom wants to rebuild San Quentin and transform it into a positive, healing environment for the roughly 3,000 incarcerated men. “The problem with the prison is that there isn’t enough space, so we want to use the buildings that are now vacant,” he says.

Newsom is an outspoken opponent of the death penalty. The prospect of ending up on death row has more to do with a person’s wealth and race than their guilt or innocence, the Democrat said. “Premeditated murder is wrong in all its forms, including by the state. I have never supported the death penalty and never will,” said the governor.

Prisoners are to be distributed

The last execution was in San Quentin in 2006. There is a new execution chamber, but it has never been used. The state of California is one of 28 states that maintain death row alongside the US government.

The prisoners sentenced to death are now to be distributed to other high-security prisons. Instead of sitting in cells all day, they now have to work. The survivors of the victims should receive 70 percent of the income as compensation.

Death penalty suspended since 2019

Marc Klaas disagrees with Gov. Newsom’s decision. His daughter has been the victim of a brutal sex murder. Her killer is sentenced to death and is being held in San Quentin. He supports the execution, says Klaas. “That is exactly what the jury recommended and it is the judge’s verdict.”

In 2019, Governor Newsom suspended the death penalty in California, the most populous US state. If he is re-elected this year, it could stay that way until 2027.

California abolishes San Quentin’s death row

Marcus Schuler, ARD Los Angeles, February 1, 2022 8:54 a.m

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