Correctional News Attends San Quentin’s 150th Anniversary

Construction of the $12 million retaining wall is still ongoing. The parking lot and the facility abut the waters of San Francisco Bay.

SAN QUENTIN, Calif. – San Quentin celebrated its 150th anniversary with visiting speakers, tours, and music. More than 2,000 people attended the July 6 event, giving current and former employees and visiting officials a chance to enjoy the vistas and ocean air of San Francisco Bay.

Joe De Patta, assistant editor for Correctional News, enjoyed the chance to catch up with former colleagues at the prison, where he once worked as a governmental program analyst. Meanwhile, Editor Jay Schneider and Assistant Editor Morgan Jones joined a tour of the facility lead by Sgt. Eric Messick, administrative aide to current Warden Jeanne Woodford.

Crowds gathered outside San Quentin’s main entrance to commemorate the prison’s longevity. Invited guests were given tours of the infamous 150-year-old facility, viewed an awards presentation, and were able to purchase San Quentin memorabilia.

With the majority of prisoners locked down, a variety of tours ran throughout the day at the 6,000-bed facility. The editors viewed the recently completed cell block supports that are part of current earthquake retrofit efforts. Sgt. Messick was able to point to still visible cracks created by the Bay Area’s 1989 quake, recalling that large chunks of concrete littered some yard areas. In addition, a $12 million retaining wall is being created on the shoreline to fight erosion.

According to Sgt. Messick, a campaign is underway to achieve historic landmark status for murals lining the dining halls. Depicting scenes from California’s history and the post-World World II era, the murals were painted by inmates starting in the 1940s as one of the innovative rehabilitation programs initiated by Warden Clinton Duffy.


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