According to the Telegraph Californian authorities are considering selling Death Row to property speculators.
Death Row’ could go up for sale Legislators in California are considering “selling Death Row” which could raise up to $2 billion (£1.4 billion) in much-needed funds thanks to the correctional facility’s prime location and enviable vistas.
The San Quentin State Prison, which was built in 1852, houses more than 5,300 inmates, including 635 prisoners sentenced to death. Situated in picturesque Marin County, it occupies a 435-acre site in one of Northern California’s most desirable locations, and boasts panoramic views over San Francisco Bay.Estate agents estimate that the land would be worth over $2 billion on the open market, and predict there would be considerable interest from property developers keen to build luxury apartments and offices on the site.
If plans to sell the prison are approved, lawmakers in California will build a new correctional facility – complete with expanded accommodations for the state’s growing Death Row population – with the proceeds, a project that will cost an estimated $1 billion (£700 million). Profits from the sale would go towards stemming the Golden State’s burgeoning budget gap, which is projected to reach $42 billion (£29 billion) within two years.
San Quentin, like many of California’s prisons, suffers from chronic overcrowding. In 2003, $220 million was allocated to finance a new, state-of-the-art Death Row facility on its grounds. Spiralling costs mean the figure would now be closer to $400 million, money critics argue could be better spent during times of economic hardship.
“It makes little sense, at a time of unprecedented state budget deficits, to pour $395.5 million more (if that is indeed the final figure) into a facility that should have been shut down and sold off when Gov Ronald Reagan first proposed it in 1971”, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Despite its reputation as a liberal state, California has the nation’s largest number of condemned prisoners. Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978, however, only 14 inmates have been executed, as the time between sentencing and death is typically between 20 and 25 years. By contrast, 38 people have died of natural causes while awaiting their fate.