California’s San Quentin State Prison to Be Transformed into Rehabilitation Center

Sacramento,[0] – California Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced plans to transform San Quentin State Prison, one of the oldest penal facilities in the country, into a Scandinavian-style center for inmate rehabilitation.[1] The prison is set to be renamed the San Quentin Rehabilitation Center, and the inmates serving sentences there will be moved elsewhere in the California penitentiary system.[2]

California's oldest correctional institution has housed some of the nation's most notorious criminals, including cult leader Charles Manson, convicted murderers, and serial killers.[1] It has also been the site of 422 executions, starting with hangings in 1893 and ending with lethal injections in 2006.[3]

Newsom has established a moratorium on executions and dismantled the prison's gas chamber.[0] In 2022, he announced plans to begin transferring inmates sentenced to death to other prisons.[0]

The governor is aiming for the facility to be a center for rehabilitation, education and training, modeled after Norway's much less restrictive approach to incarceration.[4]

Full details of the plan were not immediately made public, though officials said the facility will concentrate on “education, rehabilitation and breaking cycles of crime.”[0] Newsom was expected to share more during a visit to San Quentin, the second stop on a four-day policy tour that he's doing in lieu of a traditional State of the State address this year.[0]

The governor's office cited Norway's approach to incarceration, which focuses on preparing people to return to society, as inspiration for the program.[4] Oregon and North Dakota have drawn their own ideas from the policies of Scandinavia.[0]

Tom Lackey, an Assemblymember of the Republican Party, had negative remarks about Governor Newsom's outlook on criminal justice, stressing that the governor and other Democratic legislators should put more attention on helping those affected by crime.[0]

She stated that, in the future, they would like to decrease the number of people going to prison by providing more high paying jobs in the community.[0]

San Quentin, located north of San Francisco, has been host to some of the most progressive inmate programs in the country, a testament to the progressive leanings of the Bay Area.[0] The prison also runs a newspaper called the San Quentin News, and several prisoners recorded and produced the hugely popular podcast “Ear Hustle” while serving time.[3] Mount Tamalpais College, an accredited liberal arts degree program, exists within the prison confines.[3]

This week,[1]

0. “California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to transform San Quentin State Prison, home to death row, into rehabilitation center” KABC-TV, 17 Mar. 2023,

1. “Newsom wants to transform San Quentin using a Scandinavian model” Los Angeles Times, 16 Mar. 2023,

2. “California to Transform San Quentin Prison Into Center Emphasizing Inmate Rehab” The Wall Street Journal, 17 Mar. 2023,

3. “How Gavin Newsom plans to transform California’s infamous San Quentin State Prison” Sacramento Bee, 16 Mar. 2023,

4. “California governor plans reform of oldest state prison into ‘rehabilitation center’” The Guardian US, 17 Mar. 2023,

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