It’s one of California’s oldest prisons still in operation if not the oldest. The San Quentin State Prison was first built in July of 1852 at Point Quentin in Marin County just north of here on more than 400 pristine acres of Northern California land.
It’s history is illustrious. Johnny Cash performed a live concert there in 1969, you might have heard. Metallica shot the video for “St. Anger” there as well in 2003, which would have been a lot cooler if it was 20 years before and the song was “Dyers Eve,” but whatever.
San Quentin’s also the place where the major news cable networks like to go when they want to do a two-hour reality special titled something like “Dudes Looking Murderous in Front of a Camera While a Voiceover Describes the Prison’s Simple Day-to-Day Operations, But No One’s Really Paying Attention to the Reporter Because They’re Engrossed by the Distant Prospect That the Guy With Tattoos on His Head Playing Cards Might at Any Moment Stab in the Throat the Guy Playing Bones Nearby.”
Larry King did one recently where he kept asking a group of pre-selected inmates to detail their stories of prison rape and clandestine drug use, but they mostly wanted to talk about rehabilitation and missing their kids.
Anyway, San Quentin also houses all of California’s male condemned inmates, the people scheduled to be executed for committing murder and/or littering in Marin County and/or not voting for Mark Leno. Pumping poison into condemned jail inmates is a costly business, more costly than simply jailing them for life, anti-death penalty advocates contend, if you factor in all of the appeals and the special housing requirements.
Metallica in San Quentin