Governor Newsom Announces Historic Transformation of San Quentin State Prison

Reimagined facility will be renamed “San Quentin Rehabilitation Center” and will prioritize rehabilitation and education programs to strengthen public safety

World-renowned experts to serve on new advisory group to steer transformation

SAN QUENTIN – Today, Governor Gavin Newsom, alongside state legislators, survivors of crime and victim advocates, and civil rights leaders, announced that San Quentin State Prison — the oldest and most notorious prison in California and home to the largest “death row” in the United States — will be transformed from a maximum-security prison into a one-of-a-kind facility focused on improving public safety through rehabilitation and education. The prison, which will be renamed “San Quentin Rehabilitation Center,” will be transformed in part under the direction of an advisory group composed of state and world-renowned rehabilitation and public safety experts. The historic effort at San Quentin, never pursued at this scale in the United States, will serve as a nationwide evidence-backed model to advance a more effective justice system that builds safer communities.

“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,” said Governor Newsom. “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.

“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.”

“By transforming San Quentin into a place that promotes health and positive change, California is making a historic commitment to redefining the institution’s purpose in our society,” said Advisory Group Co-Chair and Professor of Medicine at the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations Dr. Brie Williams. “I look forward to lifting the voices of people who have lived or worked in prisons to imagine a center for healing trauma, repairing harm, expanding knowledge, restoring lives, and improving readiness for community return.”

The Governor’s 2023-24 budget proposal allocates $20 million to begin the reimagining and repurposing of the facility. The transformation will be led in part by an advisory group composed of criminal justice, rehabilitation, and public safety experts from around the state, nation, and world, as well as representatives of crime victims and survivors, formerly incarcerated individuals, staff, key state-level stakeholders, advocates, and volunteers. 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 — and a Prison Industry Authority warehouse will be transformed into a center for innovation focused on education, rehabilitation, and breaking cycles of crime.

Today’s announcement builds on the Governor’s nation-leading efforts to strengthen public safety through justice reforms and innovation. Since taking office, the Governor has placed a moratorium on the death penalty, bolstered support for victims and survivors of crime, ended the state’s use of private for-profit prisons, taken action to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, announced sweeping reforms to end juvenile imprisonmentadvanced jury representationexpanded the number of Board of Parole commissioners, signed legislation to build trust between communities and law enforcement, and announced record-level funding to bolster public safety, including through the Real Public Safety plan.