"Behind Prison Bars" - Tim Findley & Charles Howe - San Francisco Chronicle
Reporter's Story: 'I'm in Soledad'; Serving Time with the Cons; 'We're Dead Men Here'
"A free man in free man's clothing, because the authorities feared for my safety as an inmate, I lived in Soledad for a week - not a true prisoner, but as much a captive of the mind-smothering machine as the 3000 people who live and work there. Prison is never as simple as the tin cup tantrums and zoo cage loathing people insist on visualizing. . ."
IA-"Behind Prison Bars: California Penal System - World's 3rd Biggest" - Charles Howe - San Francisco Chronicle
"California has 13 penal facilities that house rhw majority of the 24,000 men and women convicted of major crimes. Aside from China and the Soviet Union, California operates the largest prison system in the world. . ."
Cons' Main Street
". . .To save money, Soledad Central was built along the contours of the gently sloping green fields of the Salinas Valley.The main corridor thus drops in a long graduated stairsteps and from the east end literally looks like an endless tunnel with only a pinpoint of light showing from the low end where the corridor opens into the big yard.Superintendent Cletus J. Fitzharris calls the corridor "a quarter mile of madness."About 1500 men live on their side of it. It is their only thoroughfare to everything that comprises their world for as long as a lifetime. . ."
Soledad's 'Hole' - A Setting for Death, Revenge
". . .Cal McEndree, the blunt-talking "Program Administrator" of the two wings was sent to Soledad last year by State Corrections Director Raymond Procunier in what was understood by most to be an effort to clean up the violent reputation of Soledad's adjustment center. Since he has been there, McEndree, widely respected by inmates for his firm, but straightforward and honest manner, has let more men out of Soledad's "hole" than had been thought possible a year before. There is some belief among observers that McEndree may even succeed in closing down at least half of the adjustment center within the next year. . ."
The Soledad 'Games'
". . .Like any other man in almost any other place, what an inmate needs to know most at Soledad is what is expected of him. The same goes for a prison staff, themselves part-time prisoners in the sketchy science of penology. 'When I first started on this job,' said a 10-year veteran correctional officer, 'we had a lot more contact with the inmate. Sure, our job was primarily custody, but it was also getting to know these men and their problems. Now, that's the counselor's job. I hate to even use the word, but I'm becoming more of a 'guard' than I was ten years ago' . . ."
Behind Prison Bars: Homosexual Attackers
". . .Nobody knows how many overt homosexuals there are inside California's prisons - but authorities do admit that homosexuality is a dangerous problem in the society behind walls. Some prisoners choose homosexuality. But some are forced into it - victims caught between terror of other inmates and the iron code against informers. Today, Chronicle reporters Tim Findley and Charles Howe explore that dark side of life behind prisons walls, part of their candid report on their three months inside prisons. . ."
". . .'You know,' a correctional officer told me as we sat around the squad-room of a California prison, 'the trouble with these joints is that we're getting too many bad guys coming to them these days.' During The Chronicle's study of California's penal system, dozens of custodial officials said the same thing: more violent men are coming to prison lately. 'They aren't tougher than they were 30 years ago,' Warden Walter Craven of Folsom said. 'It's just that there are more tough guys around' . . ."
Cons Get It Together
". . .Mulligan sat alone in his cell in San Quentin's B-Wing, a place of isolation for violent and recalcitrant prisoners. Inmates call it "the hole." Mulligan is only 23 years old, a convicted burglar with a long history of petty crimes behind him. Relatively passive on the streets, we could have been out long ago - if he had not violently resisted The System while inside prison. Mulligan has a swastika tattooed on his forearm - the one covered with self-inflicted wounds from a razor blade. Mulligan says he is a 'Nazi' . . ."
". . .Folsom Prison is a place so notorious it's almost a part of American folklore. The second oldest prison in California, and the epitome of the old "rock pile" concept. Folsom is the most outdated of the State's 12 prisons for men. It has fewer rehabilitation "programs," more armed guards and less planned recreation than any other prison in California. And, The Chronicle found, a lot of convicts think it's the best "joint" in the State. . ."
The Men Without Hope
". . .California prison officials have an annoying habit of putting together two-syllable words to describe a one-syllable mess. Prisons are "correctional facilities." Guards are "correctional officers." And what inmates and staff alike most often refer to as "the hole" is officially known as "the adjustment center." Prison in California is like the descending levels of Dante's hell, with the adjustment center almost, but not quite, at the bottom. . ."
Tehachapi -- the 'Good' Bad Place
". . .Suppose you became a felon - a convict - and they processed you through the incoming prisoner facility at Vacaville, stamped your name and number in an indelible file and sent you off to prison. What kind of place would you want it to be? How about a neat little retreat in the Tehachapi Mountains 4000 feet high at the end of a soft idyllic valley where you wear your own clothes, spend three days alone with your family every 90 days, live with other men in a dormitory like the one you had in college, vote on important issues like how late you can beat your drum at night, make your choice of learning one or more of 19 trades, complete your education, and rarely see a uniformed "guard?" It would still be prison. . ."
"They call it 'The Campus' and at first glance California's only prison for women does look like a teacher's college in some suburb. But the 655 women doing time at the California Institution for Women near Chino, it is a place of confinement. . ."
X-"Behind Prison Bars: Guard Killed By Inmate at Soledad" -Our Correspondent - San Francisco Chronicle
From Our Correspondent
". . .Officer Robert J. McCarthy, 43, was the eighth man, including three officers to be killed at Soledad in the past 13 months. Hugo Pinell, 26, an inmate convicted of rape in San Francisco in 1965, and currently serving a life sentence for attacking a San Quentin correctional officer in 1968, was being questioned yesterday by Monterey country district attorney investigators. . ."
". . .The meanest man in San Quentin kept up his reputation yesterday when he and a fellow Death Row inmate tried unsuccessfully to stab a correctional officer with homemade knives, prison officials revealed. Lawrence had gone to Lara's cell with medicine, but Lara was waiting with a spikelike device concealed under a blanket. He thrust it at the officer, but missed, officials said. . ."
". . .Fred Crocker, wearing a suit of whites with a belly chain secured to his waist, stepped out of a sheriff's van last week and walked into the recesses of Vacaville Medical Facility. A fat youngster, who admitted he had been impersonating an ambassador of another country. Fred was arrested in a northern county on charges of forgery after he tried to hand a bogus $200 person check on a jaded bartender. Croker's case was relative fare at Vacaville, where felons from 47 of California's 58 counties are first sent (the rest go to Chino, outside Los Angeles), in that he has never been to the penitentiary before. . ."
XI-"Behind Prison Bars: Tough Vigil: I Was a Guard at San Quentin" - Charles Howe - San Francisco Chronicle
". . .Robert Thompson, the head of Vacaville's reception center, sees the problem this way: 'These men,' he said of Fred and his comrades, 'have failed at everything they've ever done. They failed in school; at their marriages; at raising their children; in the Armed Forces. And the fact they are here indicates they failed at crime' . . ."
'The Day We Shook the Yard Down"
". . .Sergeant Ivanov had taken a shank - a home-made knife - from a Chicano inmate and the word was that a fight was brewing inside San Quentin Prison. 'The word is that the Los Angeles Chicanos are feuding with the El Paso Chicanos,' Ivanov told the five of us. 'Maybe it's gambling, maybe something else. We're try to find out what the beef is so that we can cool it. While we find out, you guys go out in the upper yard and start shaking down' . . ."
San Quentin's Elite Force In Action
". . .During the day I spent on the Special Security Squad at San Quentin Prison - inmates call it "the goon squad" - we ripped off Papa John's cell. We carried out seven pillowcases pull of everything from porn to extra clothing to unauthorized books and a surplus of cigarettes. We crawled through the prison's sewers like fugitives from "Les Miserables" searching for cut bars, heroin, or anything that could construed as part of a prison break - or for the thousands of items which are contraband for prisoners. . ."
". . .A 'lockdown' of all but essential activities at San Quentin Prison was ordered at 2 p.m. yesterday by Warden Louis Nelson after five inmates had been stabbed in a 24-hour period. Inmates were returned to their cells and remained there except to march to meals under unusually heavy guard. Associate Warden James Park said there appears to be a 'pattern of retaliation' on the part of blacks, whites and chicanos despite the effort of inmate leaders to 'cool the situation' . . ."
More Violence At Quentin -- Convict Slain
". . .The violence remained centered in the mammoth east block of the prison, scene of five other knifing incidents within a 24-hour period Monday and Tuesday. Despite the attacks, about 1600 men from two cell blocks were allowed out of their cells yesterday in the 3200-inmate prison, and authorities said those men would remain on an 'unlock' status unless trouble developed among them. . ."
Problems of Parolees
". . .Richter had been out of prison for seven months and he hadn't been able to find a steady job. He sat in his small, neat Mission District room and he twisted his fingers. 'I've got to get to work, you see. I've got to make friends. There's this girl upstairs I'd like to take to the movies.' He reached in his pocked and extracted a coin. 'I can't take her anywhere on a dime.' He looked at his feet. 'You don't know what it's like to be lonely and without work. If it keeps us like this, I know I'm going back in the joint' . . ."
XIV-"Behind Prison Bars: How Experts Want to Change Prisons" - Charles Howe - San Francisco Chronicle
Men Who Shouldn't Be There
"Throughout California a number of dedicated men and women in and out of the Department of Corrections are quietly working to reduce the state's prison population by at least half. Here are some of their conclusions: The amount of time a man serves behind bars has no relation to whether or not he will fail in the streets and be returned to prison. Men convicted of property crimes - as opposed to violent crimes - never should be sent to prison. . ."