California’s Death Row Inmates Transferred Amid Safety Concerns in Chino Valley

Chino, California – Death row inmates from San Quentin State Prison are being relocated to 19 other correctional facilities across California as part of efforts to comply with Proposition 66, approved by voters in 2016. One of these facilities is the California Institution for Men in Chino, a move that has sparked concern among public officials and residents like Mary Ann Hughes of Chino Hills.

Hughes, who tragically lost her 11-year-old son Christopher in 1983 to an inmate named Kevin Cooper, is actively opposing the transfer of condemned prisoners to the Chino prison. Cooper’s escape led to the deaths of four individuals, including Christopher, and the painful memories of that day continue to haunt Hughes.

Standing alongside public officials, Hughes shared her family’s heartbreaking story during a press conference, urging Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to halt the transfers of death row inmates to the men’s prison in Chino. Chino Mayor Eunice Ulloa expressed outrage over the relocation of 39 death row prisoners to the California Institution for Men.

Chino Hills Mayor Cynthia Moran joined the chorus of dissent, calling on Governor Newsom to immediately remove the condemned inmates from CIM and cease further transfers. Concerns over the overcrowded and underfunded state of the prison were echoed by law enforcement officials, including Chino Police Chief Kevin Mensen, who described the transfers as a “recipe for disaster.”

Despite the CDCR’s rationale that the transfers are necessary for death row inmates to pay restitution to their victims’ families by working outside their cells, critics argue that safety concerns outweigh this mandate under Prop. 66. San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson emphasized the importance of implementing all aspects of the law to uphold justice for victims and their families, like Mary Ann Hughes, who sees any form of restitution as “blood money.”

As the debate continues over the transfer of death row inmates to the California Institution for Men in Chino, community members, law enforcement officials, and public officials are united in their call for prioritizing public safety and honoring the memories of those like Christopher, whose lives were taken too soon.