SAN QUENTIN. San Quentin State Prison in Marin County, known as the "Big House," is California's oldest penal institution. The original cell block, called "the Stones," was constructed in 1852 by a private lessee using prisoner labor. San Quentin initially housed both men and women. Women were moved outside the walls in the 1920s and to different facilities in the 1930s. Prisoners at San Quentin typically were employed in privately operated industries. For many years they made burlap bags in the prison jute mill.
Notorious offenders were confined at San Quentin, among them Sirhan Sirhan and Charles Manson. Eldridge Cleaver began his career as a leader of the Black Panther Party there. In 1970 George Jackson, one of the Soledad Brothers, was shot to death in an apparent escape attempt.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century San Quentin was a high-security prison for approximately six thousand male inmates, among them more than five hundred prisoners under sentence of death. Many prisoners were employed manufacturing furniture for state agencies. The coastal site of the prison on the Marin Peninsula is attractive to real estate developers, and it seems likely that San Quentin will ultimately be demolished to make its location available for private homes.
Nichols, Nancy Ann. San Quentin inside the Walls. San Quentin, Calif.: San Quentin Museum Press, 1991.
See alsoPrisons and Prison Reform .
"San Quentin." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/san-quentin
"San Quentin." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved June 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/san-quentin
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San Quentin (săn kwĕn´tən), peninsula extending into San Francisco Bay, W Calif., N of San Francisco. The state prison there was begun in 1852. San Quentin is the western terminus of the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge.
"San Quentin." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (June 18, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/san-quentin
"San Quentin." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 18, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/san-quentin