San Quentin death row inmates to transfer to other prisons due to high cost of housing

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — When California voters passed Prop 66 in 2016, it was designed to speed up executions.

But little did voters know that Governor Newsom would put a halt to the death penalty, which he did last year.

A lesser known provision in Prop 66 is getting implemented this month and it has some victim’s families crying foul.

The provision has created a bit of a split between death penalty proponents and victims families — some who say they are against the provision — authors of Prop 66 who are in favor of the death penalty believe it should be there.

Prop 66 was designed to speed up executions, but it also had a provision to deal with the high costs of housing inmates at San Quentin.

One of the arguments against the death penalty was how costly it was to house condemned inmates at San Quentin. 

So authors of Prop 66 and the death penalty included a provision to allow death row inmates to be housed elsewhere.

“The purpose of the provision was to save part of the cost of the death penalty and take away one of the arguments that the other side was using about cost as a reason to abolish this penalty,” Co-Author of Prop 66 Kent Scheidegger said.

Beginning the month of February, death row inmates will be able to request transfers to one of eight facilities approved by the Department of Corrections. 

If approved, they can also apply to work and avail themselves of other rehab programs at the facility.

“It knee caps the victims themselves, not to mention their families of these death row inmates,” Mark Klaas said.

Klaas, whose daughter Polly’s killer is among those on death row, opposes the transfer of death row inmates.

“So now a gift is being given to the individuals that killed children, that killed police, that killed multiple individuals,” Klaas said. “And that’s the gift of being reintegrated into a general population and given the opportunity to participate in work programs and rehabilitation programs. That makes no sense to me.”

But Scheidegger points out that the transfers will save money. And the real issue that remains is the moratorium on the death penalty.

“The main problem, again, is the governor’s abuse of power,” Scheidegger said.

Now as part of Prop 66, they have upped the restitution for death row inmates from 50 to 70-percent. So if they do end up working at their new facility, that will mean additional money for their victim’s families.

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