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Building Out Cal's Death Row

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Don Thompson reports for AP:

Despite California's $19 billion budget deficit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration said Wednesday it will borrow nearly $65 million from the state's cash-strapped general fund to begin building a new 1,152-bed death row at San Quentin State Prison.

But of course we don't need a 1,152-bed death row. I took a sample of 50 cases out of the list of death row inmates, and only 6 had been there less than 6 years. If we properly processed the appeals, then, death row would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/8 of its present size, less than 100.

Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, called it "stunningly hypocritical" that the governor is borrowing from the general fund at the same time he is attempting to furlough state employees three days each month to avoid a looming cash crisis....  He and Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, also criticized the projected cost overruns for a project that originally was expected to cost $220 million.

And what have you done, Messrs. Huffman & Leno, to get the needed reforms through the Legislature so we don't need the large death row?  Less than zero?

The Governor's record on capital punishment is mixed. I have no complaints about his Supreme Court appointments or his handling of clemency requests. When it comes to fixing the systemic problems, though, he has not shown the leadership that I expected when he stormed into office.

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Since California contracts with prisons in other states to house prisoners, why not death row inmates? Texas would work well.

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