Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Linda Dailey Paulson
Located in Marin County, California, San Quentin State Prison is California's oldest and bestknown correctional institution. It is one of the “big house” prisons (a term popularized in movies), and was long considered the prison of last resort in the California state penal system. When California still belonged to Mexico, and before centralized prisons were built, convicts were typically held in either Mexican jails or on barges. After California became a U.S. territory, more than 400 acres of land on San Quentin Point was purchased by the state, which awarded a contract for construction of the prison in 1851. Prisoners were used for both labor and profit at San Quentin. Convicts built the prison during the day and slept aboard a ship until construction was completed in 1854. Convict workers also built many roads ...