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San Quentin

SAN QUENTIN

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.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Nichols, Nancy Ann. San Quentin inside the Walls. San Quentin, Calif.: San Quentin Museum Press, 1991.

LarryYackle

See alsoPrisons and Prison Reform .

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San Quentin

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.

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San Quentin

San Quentin ★★½ 1937

Former army officer Stephen Jameson (O'Brien) heads to San Q to try some reform work on the rowdy cons, including Red Kennedy (Bogart), who isn't buying his routine. Jameson has it bad for Red's singing sister May (Sheridan), who thinks he's okay for trying to help Red. Only Red, egged on by con Hanson (Sawyer), escapes the road gang to have it out with May. Convinced it's real love, Red surrenders and makes a plea to give Jameson's methods a chance—which Red doesn't get. Much of the melodrama was shot in and around the prison itself. 70m/B DVD . Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, Barton MacLane, Joseph (Joe) Sawyer, Veda Ann Borg, Joe King, Gordon Oliver, Emmett Vogan, Garry Owen, Marc Lawrence, George Lloyd; D: Lloyd Bacon; W: John Bright, Peter Milne, Robert Tasker; C: Sid Hickox; M: Charles Maxwell, David Raksin, Heinz Roemheld.

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