Friday, April 29, 2011

Jerry Brown Shelves Super-Mega-Awesome Death Row at San Quentin

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Jerry Brown has cancelled his plans to build a controversial new Death Row facility at San Quentin, citing the state's budget crisis. Qouth the Governor: "At a time when children, the disabled and seniors face painful cuts to essential programs, the state of California cannot justify a massive expenditure of public dollars for the worst criminals in our state".

This is one of those rare moments in Sacramento when both sides of the aisle stand up to applaud a Governor's failure. While the guards' union and some prisoners-rights groups decry the safety and cleanliness of San Quentin's current, decrepit Death Row, both Republicans and Democrats inside the Capitol have fought the costly new facility for years. And you can hardly blame them. The project's construction cost had ballooned from a 2003 estimate of $220 million all the way up to $356 million (guess the guards shouldn't have asked for that second waterslide). In the next fiscal year alone, taxpayers would have spent $125 million on the new buildings. And looking into the future, the project would've cost $28.5 million every year in debt payments, and the cost of additional staffing was estimated at $1.2 billion over 20 years.

We'd just as soon see the state abolish its death penalty and obviate the need for such a facility altogether. But until that happens, we're glad to enjoy a small victory along with all the other abused taxpayers in California.


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