California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who three years ago put a moratorium on executions, now is moving to dismantle the nation's’ largest death row by moving all condemned inmates to other prisons within two years, the Associated Press reports. The goal is to turn the section at San Quentin State Prison into a “positive, healing environment,” Newsom said. “The prospect of your ending up on death row has more to do with your wealth and race than it does your guilt or innocence,” he said. “We talk about justice, we preach justice, but as a nation, we don’t practice it on death row.” California, which last carried out an execution in 2006, is one of 28 states with death rows, along with the U.S. government.
While other states have abolished executions, California is merging its condemned inmates into the general prison population with no expectation that any will face execution anytime in the near future. Oregon similarly transferred its much smaller condemned population to other inmate housing two years ago. “We are starting the process of closing death row to repurpose and transform the current housing units into something innovative and anchored in rehabilitation,” California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Vicky Waters said.