With regards to the Planetizen contributed news article, Prison or Mixed Use Community?
The land where San Quentin State Prison sits today would command a high price if the prison were to vacate. The prison's location, chosen in the 1850's, was due to the proximity of the Bay. California territorial inmates were held on a ship moored just offshore and they helped build the first building of the prison complex.
Today, generally speaking, San Quentin serves as a classification/intake center for the California Department of Corrections. In other words, unlike the old days, most inmates don't spend a long time incarcerated at that particular facility, but rather they are evaluated after their convictions and eventually shifted to some other facility in the system. However, the condemned inmate population is housed at San Quentin and they need a new cell house, for both capacity as well as security purposes.
The proximity of San Quentin to San Francisco (home of the 9th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals) is what necessitates keeping these inmates in place. Also, the communities around other prisons (such as Folsom) which could hypothetically accept relocation of these inmates have said flat out, they don't want to be the "death row" town mentioned in the media.
I say keep San Quentin for the function it serves now.
Some other states, such as Virginia and Ohio demolished their "signature" penitentiaries for redevelopment, but relocation of inmates was not a big problem, for they were moved about an hour away from the former locations. Today, the former Richmond site of the Virginia State Penitentiary is the headquarters for the Ethyl Chemical Corp. and the former Columbus site of the Ohio State Penitentiary is home to the Nationwide Arena.
From a planning perspective - it would be difficult to really accomodate a sizeable influx of condos and new development. San Quentin is right on the rocks and the roads in and out are limited. The neighbors who are living there would be priced right out of the market, despite optimistic projections to the contrary by developers.