California Will Close Death Row at San Quentin. The Next Steps Are More Complicated

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A man in uniform stands next to a sign that says "California State Prison, San Quentin," with the castle-like facade of the prison behind him.
A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officer wears a protective mask as he stands guard at the front gate of San Quentin State Prison on June 29, 2020, in San Quentin, California.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California is in limbo with the death penalty. We have an execution moratorium, and no one has been put to death in the state since 2006. But it’s still legal to sentence someone to die, which means there are hundreds of people sitting on death row, often in solitary confinement.

But a move by Gov. Gavin Newsom begins to chip away at this system. The nation’s largest death row at San Quentin State Prison will close, and the men inside will be sent to other maximum security prisons where they can have access to jobs. Meanwhile, the state plans to transform the former site of San Quentin’s death row into a “positive, healing environment.”

Guests: Mary Franklin Harvin, KQED producer and reporter, and Kate Wolffe, KQED producer, reporter and weekend anchor


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