Ground has not yet been broken on a new death row at California’s San Quentin State Prison, but the projected cost of the project has soared by nearly 80 percent for a compound that could be full only three years after it opens, said an audit reported by the Los Angeles Times. If the facility is built as envisioned, some condemned inmates would have to reside in cells with others rather than be imprisoned separately as they are now, State Auditor Elaine Howle reported. The audit details the delays and changes to the $220-million plan that state lawmakers authorized five years ago to house 656 male inmates facing the death penalty. Those prisoners are now scattered across several antiquated, rundown buildings without modern security features.
The cost per cell, projected at $515,000, has more than doubled. Beyond November, every month of delay will cost an additional $2 million. The complex was supposed to have been finished last December. Now, construction cannot start until the beginning of next year. Bob Caputi, the project director with the corrections department, said a court challenge by Marin County to the project’s environmental impact report was partly to blame for the problems. Executions in California have been on hold for more than two years and cannot resume until a federal judge reauthorizes the state to use its lethal injection chamber at San Quentin, which was recently renovated for $750,000. Meanwhile, 12 new condemned inmates arrive at San Quentin annually, on average.