Officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said the agency has already begun the process of phasing out death row at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County.
In the coming weeks, the department will be proposing regulations to expand the Condemned Inmate Transfer Pilot Program, which was implemented in January 2020, according to CDCR Special Advisor and Assistant Secretary of Communications Vicky Waters.
The program allows inmates on death row to voluntarily transfer to other California prisons for job placement opportunities. Transfers for people on death row are reviewed by the CDCR’s Institutional Classification Committees and take into account an inmate’s security level, their behavior, and other safety concerns.
As of Friday, the pilot program has already helped transfer 116 death row male inmates from San Quentin to other maximum security prisons throughout the state. Additionally, eight death row female inmates from the Central California Women’s Facility have been transferred to other housing units at the prison under the pilot program, Water said.
The program was created after voters approved November 2016’s Proposition 66, which changed the way state courts can challenge death penalty convictions.
In 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order placing a moratorium on the death penalty, calling the punishment a “failure” that “has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, Black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation.”
The expansion of the Condemned Inmate Transfer Pilot Program will start the process of phasing out death row housing at San Quentin, as well as the Central California Women’s Facility near Chowchilla.
According to Waters, the CDCR anticipates all of the state’s 673 male inmates and 21 female inmates could all be transferred out of death row within the next two years.