Tag: San Quentin

United Shades of America Visits San Quentin

CNN's new series, United Shades of America with comedian and social commentator W. Kamau Bell, airing on Sunday evenings is worth watching. Two episodes aired last night: one on the KKK and one on San Quentin.

In the KKK episode, Bell meets with a grand wizard of the KKK. Their conversation is quite awkward.

The second episode, where Bell goes behind the walls of San Quentin (but not death row) to interview the prisoners and staff and show the human side of the inmates, is very well done.

Props to both CNN, for commissioning a series that focuses on our over-reliance on prison, and to Bell. In the San Quentin episode, Bell skillfully uses humor to gain the confidence of the inmates, who otherwise I suspect would not be so have been so candid and cooperative in their interviews. [More...]

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Federal Judge Tours New San Quentin Death Chamber

There are 720 inmates awaiting execution on San Quentin's death row. U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel, who placed executions on hold in 2006 due to concerns that the chamber was antiquated and did not ensure a humane death, toured the new $900,000 death chamber today.

Judge Fogel didn't indicate whether his concerns have been satisfied, and will issue rulings later. He toured the old facility in 2006. Here's how the old procedure worked, according to San Quentin Operational Procedure No. 770. The 2007 revised protocol is here, but that too was declared invalid Then the state enacted Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15 3349 et seq. Here is Judge Fogel's September, 2010 ruling after the 9th Circuit remanded his decision on that.

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California Considering Sale of San Quentin

The inmates are opposed to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to consider selling San Quentin to earn money for the state.

They live two inmates to a 4-by-9-foot cell. And it's fine with them. Why? The opportunities for learning and rehabilitation.

One inmate says:

"Some places you go for punishment," said inmate John Taylor, a catcher for the prison baseball team, the San Quentin Giants. "Here, it's more rehabilitation. I just don't know why the governor would want to shut us down."

Taylor's job at the prison: cutting weeds. He says:

"This is the first place visitors see when they come in," he said. "We want it to look good."


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