Costs for New California Death Row Soar to $400 Million

A recent audit of the construction costs for a new death row facility at California’s San Quentin prison revealed that estimates have soared over 80% from previous projections. Ground still has not been broken for the project, but the new death row is likely to require nearly $400 million, instead of the $220 million originally quoted, and it will provide even fewer cells than planned. As an average of 12 new condemned inmates arrive at San Quentin annually, the new facility will be full only three years after it opens. The lethal injection chamber at San Quentin has already been renovated at a cost of $750,000.  The new construction is projected to cost over half a million dollars per cell (more than double the original estimate). “I think this report is a bombshell,” said Assemblyman Jared Huffman. “They simply want to build a massive monolith to house all our condemned inmates on the most expensive piece of real estate in Northern California.” Assemblyman Juan Arambula called the costs "alarming." A joint Assembly and Senate committee is still considering the prison agency’s funding request for an additional $136 million to start the construction.  California has the largest death row in the country with approximately 670 inmates.
(M. Rothfeld, “Costs Soar for New Death Row at San Quentin,” L.A. Times, June 11, 2008).  See Costs.