California Governor Jerry Brown recently canceled construction of a new $356-million death row at San Quentin prison, saying it would be "unconscionable" to spend so much on condemned inmates as the state is slashing budgets for education and other social services, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The state just completed the construction of a new, and untested, death chamber, built for nearly $900,000 and designed solely for lethal injections. California must resolve whether it can resume executions on America’s largest death row cramped with 713 condemned inmates, 18 of whom are women not housed at San Quentin.
The cancellation of the death row project will save the state's general fund $28.5 million a year for 25 years, the cost of financing the construction loan. It should not have an impact on whether executions resume.
Brown's move comes not only amid a budget crisis but also at a time when the future of capital punishment in California is in question. There are no executions scheduled as a legal challenge to the three-drug protocol used for executions works its way through the courts, according to the Times.
Brown has expressed his personal objection to capital punishment but has also vowed to respect the will of the majority of Californians, who have said they want to keep the death penalty as a sentencing option.
To read more: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-death-row-20110429,0,1177207.story