Report 2007-120.2 Highlights - July 2008

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation:

Although Building a Condemned Inmate Complex at San Quentin May Cost More Than Expected, the Costs of Other Alternatives for Housing Condemned Inmates Are Likely to Be Even Higher


Our review of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's (Corrections) current proposal for constructing a condemned inmate complex (CIC) at San Quentin State Prison (San Quentin), and our analysis of alternatives for housing condemned inmates found the following:

  • Despite the 25 percent reduction in the size of the CIC, Corrections now estimates the cost of the project at $356 million, an increase of $136 million, or 62 percent, over its original proposal.
  • Our consultant estimates construction of Corrections' currently proposed CIC at San Quentin is expected to cost $395.5 million, $39.3 million more than Corrections has estimated, and new operating costs will average $58.8 million per year, for a total of approximately $1.2 billion over the next 20 years.
  • Corrections' plan to maximize the CIC by double-celling up to two-thirds of condemned inmates raises concerns about protecting the confidentiality of their legal papers and staff and inmate safety.
  • If Corrections' plan to double-cell condemned inmates is not a feasible approach, the CIC will reach capacity in 2014, less than three years after it is expected to open.
  • Dispersing condemned inmates to housing units at multiple prison locations is not a practical or economically viable alternative.
  • Between the later construction start dates and Corrections having already spent nearly $19 million to prepare for constructing a CIC at San Quentin, constructing a CIC at an alternate site would cost between $138.7 million to $486.3 million more than Corrections' current proposal.
  • The sale of the land Corrections currently plans to use for the CIC could partially offset the cost of constructing a CIC at another prison. Our consultant estimates that the land could be sold for between $45.3 million and $117.9 million, depending on how it was developed.
  • The State could avoid spending approximately $93.2 million if it delayed construction of a CIC at San Quentin for five years. However, there are unquantifiable costs associated with such a delay. For example, by the end of calendar year 2010, there will be 17 more condemned inmates than Corrections can house in the cellblocks currently used for this purpose. If the CIC is not built, Corrections will need to find additional space for these inmates.

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