Executions became banned in 2019 under the passing by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with the ending of San Quentin's death row unit. The hopeful replacement for it is “a center for innovation focused on education, rehabilitation, and breaking cycles of crime.” This would bring the state a coast of $380 million.
This proposal is based on a model of incarceration from Scandinavian areas that would focus on rehabilitation that is education based rather than security-centered. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who leads the governor's San Quentin Transformation Advisory Council, traveled to Norway this month to tour facilities there.
“California is transforming San Quentin – the state's most notorious prison with a dark past – into the nation's most innovative rehabilitation facility focused on building a brighter and safer future,” Newsom said in March.
“By transforming San Quentin into a place that promotes health and positive change, California is making a historic commitment to redefining the institution's purpose in our society,” adds Dr. Brie Williams, who co-chairs the advisory council. “I look forward to lifting the voices of people who have lived or worked in prisons to imagine a center for healing trauma, repairing harm, expanding knowledge, restoring lives and improving readiness for community return.”
The prison would be relabeled as San Quentin Rehabilitation Center, despite not much change within the name.
Assemblymember Bonta was also present when Gov. Newsom first made his San Quentin announcement, according to the Observer.
“We have not put the ‘R' into CDCR,” Mia Bonta told the news source. “We have not focused on rehabilitation to the level that we know that we need to. If we're actually going to be changing, creating a paradigm shift around our carceral system, we have to actually invest the dollars and cents into making sure that people can be rehabilitated.”
“The final ‘R' in CDCR, which stands for rehabilitation, needs more priority, emphasis, investment, commitment, and there are ways that that can happen,” Rob Bonta says. “We need to look back and ask ourselves not what are we doing so we can continue to do it, but what have we done that works and … double down on what's working. And [we] always have to be open to change and to what the data says, and not predetermine it.”
With this change, 85 percent of the prisoners will be released. Updates to come on this huge development change within state prisons.