With no executions in nearly a decade and newly condemned men arriving each month, California’s death row, the nation’s largest, has run out of room, reports the Los Angeles Times. Warning that there is little time to lose, Gov. Jerry Brown is asking the legislature for $3.2 million to open nearly 100 more death row cells at San Quentin State Prison. The expansion would take advantage of cells made available as the state releases low-level drug offenders and thieves under a new law voters approved last year.
California’s death penalty has litigated for a decade. One case led to a halt to executions in 2006. Another resulted in a federal judge’s ruling that the state’s interminably slow capital appeals system is unconstitutionally cruel. The death row population has grown from 646 in 2006 to 751 today. Critics say Brown’s proposal doesn’t address deeper problems with the California system. “This is a failure of Gov. Brown to do the things within his power to move things forward,” said Kent Scheidegger of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, which has sued to force the state to resume executions.