Transformation planned for San Quentin State Prison

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California Construction News staff writer

San Quentin State Prison will be transformed from a maximum-security prison into a one-of-a-kind facility for rehabilitation and education. The site will be renamed “San Quentin Rehabilitation Center.”

“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,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “Today, we take the next step in our pursuit of true rehabilitation, justice, and safer communities through this evidenced-backed investment, creating a new model for safety and justice — the California Model — that will lead the nation.

The 2023-24 budget proposal allocates $20 million to begin the reimagining and repurposing of the facility. Both the existing condemned row housing unit, which is being shut down — and those housed there safely moved to other prisons to serve their sentences. A prison industry authority warehouse will be transformed into a center for innovation focused on education, rehabilitation, and breaking cycles of crime.

The plan was inspired by Norway’s system of prisons. In a tweet, the governor called it “the most innovative rehabilitation facility” in the country. San Quentin houses the country’s highest number of people on death row, but it is being “repurposed” for rehabilitating inmates, educating them and breaking “cycles of crime.”

“San Quentin has long challenged the status quo: In the 1940s, the warden closed the dungeons once ubiquitous to incarceration, and launched educational and vocational programs in their place,” said Advisory Group Co-Chair and San Quentin Warden Ron Broomfield.

“Today, we again challenge the status quo as we reimagine San Quentin and create an environment where people are empowered to discover their full potential while pursuing educational and vocational opportunities that will prepare them for a successful future — and make our communities safer.”

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