Folsom State Prison
|Population||2,314 (93.7%) (as of 31 December 2012)|
|Opened||July 26, 1880|
|Managed by||California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation|
Folsom State Prison is a California State Prison located in the city of Folsom, California, 20 mi (32 km) northeast from the state capital of Sacramento. Opened in 1880, Folsom is the second-oldest prison in the state of California after San Quentin and was the first in the country to have electricity. Folsom was one of the first maximum security prisons, and as such witnessed the execution of 93 condemned prisoners over a 42-year period. It is possibly best known in popular culture for two concerts performed at the facility by musician Johnny Cash in the late 1960s. Folsom State Prison is one of 33 prisons operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
- 1 Facilities
- 2 History
- 3 Inmate programs
- 4 Escape attempts
- 5 1932 Dummy used in Escape
- 6 Violent incidents
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 Notable prisoners
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Both FSP and California State Prison, Sacramento (SAC) share the mailing address: Represa, CA 95671. Represa (translated as "dam" from the Spanish language) is the name given in 1892 to the State Prison post office because of its proximity to a dam on the American River that was under construction at the time. The dam was replaced in 1955 by the Folsom Dam.
As of March 2012, the facility's total population was 2,912, or 117.9 percent of its design capacity of 2,469.
There are five housing units within the secure perimeter, including the original two-tiered structure. Unit 1 is the most populous cellblock in the United States, with a capacity of nearly 1,200 inmates on four five-tiered sections.
All cells include toilet, sink, bunks and storage space for inmate possessions. There are two dining halls, a large central prison exercise yard, and two smaller exercise yards. The visiting room includes an attached patio as well as space for non-contact visits.
FSP is California's second-oldest prison, long known for its harsh conditions in the decades following the California Gold Rush. Although FSP now houses primarily medium security prisoners, FSP was one of America's first maximum-security prisons.
Construction of the facility began in 1878 on the site of the Stony Bar mining camp along the American River. The prison officially opened in 1880. Folsom was built to hold 1,800 inmates. Inmates spent most of their time in the dark behind solid boiler plate doors in stone cells measuring 4 by 8 ft (1.2 by 2.4 m) with 6 in (150 mm) eye slots. Air holes were drilled into the cell doors in the 1940s, and the cell doors are still in use today.
FSP was the first prison in the world to have electric power, which was provided by the first hydroelectric powerhouse in California.
After the State of California took sole control of the death penalty in 1891, executions were held at Folsom and at San Quentin State Prison. A total of 93 prisoners were hanged at FSP between December 13, 1895, and December 3, 1937, after which executions were carried out in the gas chamber at California's San Quentin State Prison.
Prison industries include metal fabrication and a print shop. The quarry at FSP provided granite for the foundation of the state capitol building and much of the gravel used in the early construction of California's roads. California's vehicle license plates have been manufactured at FSP since the 1930s.
In 1968 Johnny Cash played a concert at the prison. Each attending prisoner lived in his own cell. Almost every one of the attending prisoners was in an education program or learning a trade. Most of the attending prisoners who were released did not return to prison after being released. Laura Sullivan of National Public Radio said that the costs of housing prisoners "barely registered" in the state's budget. In 2009 Folsom was overcrowded, having 4,427 inmates. Around that year most of its prisoners who were released returned to prison after being released.
The PIA program includes administration, a license plate factory where the inmates have been making California license plates since before the 1930s, maintenance, metal fabrication, Sign shop, Print plant].
The Vocational Inmate Program formerly included auto body & fender, auto mechanics, building maintenance, electronics, graphic arts, janitorial, landscape gardening, masonry, mill and cabinet, office services, and welding. Half of these programs have been eliminated due to budget cuts in 2010.
The Academic Inmate Program includes Adult Basic Education, High School/GED, English as a Second Language, a literacy program, Computer Assisted Instruction.
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Since Folsom was one of the first maximum-security prisons in the United States, the inmates were desperate to escape. Prior to the completion of the granite wall in the 1920s, the prison saw numerous escape attempts; the first one occurring shortly after the first inmates arrived in the 1880s. Throughout Folsom's violent and bloody history, numerous riots and escape attempts have resulted in both inmate and staff deaths.
1920 Prison train attempt
In 1920, three convicts hijacked a prison train that was used to move materials and smashed it through a prison gate to escape. One of the escaped convicts was never recaptured.
1932 Dummy used in Escape
On June 16th, Dwight E. Abbott, 24, a Los Angeles robber, escaped from Folsom by making a life-like dummy. The dummy was cleverly made to look real enough with Abbott's own hair, that of his cellmate, and a plaster of paris face, to fool the guards until the late the next day. This according to the Warden, was seen in his bed and deceived the guards until general lock-up.
1932 Diving suit attempt
An inmate, Carl Reese, tried to escape in 1932 using a diving suit fashioned from a football bladder, a goggle lens and other scrounged materials. According to Floyd Davis, a prison guard of 13 years who continued to volunteer at the museum after his retirement, the inmate only made one mistake: he didn't make his breathing tube long enough, and ended up drowning in the power house mill pond.
Guards had to drain the pond to recover the inmate's body.
September 19, 1937
Approximately 40 inmates had been waiting to talk to Warden Clarence Larkin concerning upcoming parole hearings when seven of the inmates suddenly attacked him. As they took him into the yard other guards started firing. In the commotion that followed Officer Harry Martin and Warden Larkin were both stabbed to death. Officer Martin died at the scene and Warden Larkin died of his wounds five days later.
The inmates involved in the attack were said to have used shanks, prison-made knives, to attack the Warden and the officer. Also, a prison-made wooden semiautomatic pistol was found, and was carved and meant for use in the attack.
One of the seven inmates who attempted to escape was wanted for the murder of Officer James Hill, of the Marlow, Oklahoma Police Department, on April 20, 1931.
Two of the escaping inmates were fatally shot during the incident. The remaining five were all sentenced to death and eventually executed. Two suspects, including the one who had murdered Officer Hill, were executed in the gas chamber on December 2, 1938. Two others were executed on December 9, 1938, the leader of the group was executed on December 16, 1938.
June 5, 1987
In 1987, Godwin attempted to escape during his incarceration at Deuel Vocational Institute in Tracy, California, and he was moved to Folsom State Prison, a maximum-security prison. Authorities believe Godwin's wife Shelly Rose Godwin and his former cellmate in Deuel, Lorenz Karlic, helped to plan his escape.
A hacksaw and other tools had been smuggled into the prison for Godwin. On June 5, 1987, he cut a hole through fence wire and escaped into a storm drain that emptied into the American River. Godwin dropped through a manhole and crawled 750 feet through the pitch-black drain. Either Godwin's wife or Karlic, an accomplice, had left a raft that Godwin used to float down the river, following painted arrows on rocks that directed him where to go.
In January 1988, Shelly Godwin was classified as a federal fugitive for her role in her husband's escape. She was captured by the FBI in Dallas, Texas, on February 7, 1990. Godwin was arrested in Mexico in 1991 but escaped again from a prison in Guadalajara in September of that year and remains at large.
October 19, 2010
Prison spokesman Lt. Anthony Gentile did not elaborate on the circumstances of how the men got away, only saying that the two men fled from the prison's Minimum Support Facility, and that the escape was discovered when the two failed to report to their work areas.
Folsom State Prison correctional staff and CDCR's Office of Correctional Safety agents initiated escapee apprehension efforts. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, local law enforcement agencies and the California Highway Patrol joined the search for the two men.
They were apprehended in Inglewood, CA on November 22, 2010.
In 1937, a warden of FSP, Clarence Larkin, was stabbed during an escape attempt and died from his wounds.
During the 1970s and 1980s violence at Folsom peaked, when the Aryan Brotherhood and other prison gangs made prisons increasingly dangerous. The establishment of Secure Housing Units, first at California State Prison, Sacramento, and later at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, and California State Prison, Corcoran, did much to control gang-related violence.
On August 27, 2010, seven federal inmates at Folsom were admitted to a hospital after corrections officers discharged firearms during a riot involving 200 inmates. None of the inmates' injuries were life-threatening, and no corrections officers were injured during the incident.
On Wednesday, September 19, 2012, a fight erupted in one of the yards, shortly after 11:00 A.M. No prison staffers are believed injured and the fight was eventually broken up by the prison guards (using less-than-lethal force), but one inmate was shot and at least ten other inmates had stab or slash wounds, authorities stated (they are being treated at area hospitals).
In popular culture
FSP was made known to the outside world by country music legend Johnny Cash. Cash narrated a fictional account of an outlaw's incarceration in his song "Folsom Prison Blues" (1956). In addition, Cash performed two live concerts at FSP. The first was in 1966 and the most famous live concert was at the FSP cafeteria on January 13, 1968, which was recorded as the album At Folsom Prison. Cash later said of the FSP inmates "they were the most enthusiastic audience I have ever played to." The "Folsom Prison Blues" single from that album was #1 on the country music chart for four weeks, and the album was on the top 200 pop album chart for 122 weeks. A 40th anniversary tribute concert was to take place in the same cafeteria at FSP on January 13, 2008, with a special appearance by Cash's original drummer W.S. "Fluke" Holland. The original plans were to stream the concert over the internet, with four nonprofit groups underwriting the show and sharing in any profits the show might realize. However, a few days before the concert was to occur, it was canceled in a dispute over filming rights, media access, and security concerns.
FSP has been the location of a number of feature films, including Riot in Cell Block 11, Heat, American Me, The Jericho Mile, Another 48 Hrs., Diggstown, parts of Walk the Line (a biographical film of Johnny Cash), and Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison, which was the inspiration. A Johnny Cash tribute band on the East coast is named The Folsom Prison Gang.
The popular RTS game, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, also referenced Folsom Prison, with a major galactic prison known as 'New Folsom."
The M-5 freeway in Farmington Hills, MI has 2 service drives named Folsom and Freedom adjacent to the eastbound and westbound sides respectively; this could be an homage to the idea that Folsom, as in Folsom State Prison, refers to a place that is the opposite of freedom.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2009)|
- Sonny Barger Former leader of the Hells Angels
- Edward Bunker
- Eldridge Cleaver
- George Contant, train robber; later lectured against crime, brother of John Sontag
- Chris Evans, train robber, partner of John Sontag
- Joseph Gamsky, aka Joe Hunt, of the Billionaire Boys Club
- Glen Stewart Godwin, whose escape from Folsom earned him a spot on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list 
- Cameron Hooker, convicted of the Kidnapping of Colleen Stan
- Rick James, musician
- Edmund Kemper, the co-ed killer
- Suge Knight, owner of Death Row Records
- Timothy Leary
- Charles Manson
- Erik Menendez
- James Mitose
- Ed Morrell, accomplice to the Evans-Sontag railroad robbers of the 1890s
- Ricky Murdock, rapper known by the stage name Askari X
- Bobby Purify (Original singer of "I'm Your Puppet")
- Shorty Rossi, star of the Animal Planet show Pit Boss
- Leo Ryan, U.S. Congressman who while an Assemblyman had posed as a prisoner to investigate conditions.
- Glen Sherley, musician
- Danny Trejo, actor
- Robert Leroy Biehler, Murder for hire and Pimp of the San Fernando Valley murders.
- Offender Information Services Branch (3 January 2013). Monthly Report of Population. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. p. 2. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- "Folsom prison belt buckle". 24 March 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- Folsom State Prison (FSP) (2009). "Mission Statement". California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Retrieved 2009-08-20.[dead link]
- California State Prison, Sacramento (SAC) (2009). "Mission Statement". California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Retrieved 2009-08-20.[dead link]
- Durham, David L (1998). California's Geographic Names. A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Clovis, CA: Word Dancer Press. ISBN 1-884995-14-4.
- "History of Capital Punishment in California." California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Retrieved on August 16, 2010.
- Sullivan, Laura (13 August 2009). "Folsom Embodies California's Prison Blues". National Public Radio. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "Folsom Prison".
- Don Thompson. "California museum not far from Folsom prison". Cincinnati.com. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "Nevada State Journal", Reno Nevada, United Press Association, June 17, 1932.
- Underwood, Melissa (January 28, 2008). "Glen Stewart Godwin Wanted for Murder, Escape From Prison". Fox News. Retrieved December 26, 2009.
- "Suspected Helper in Prison Escape Seized" (Fee required). Los Angeles Times. June 9, 1987. Retrieved December 26, 2009.
- Cooper, Anderson (January 28, 2008). "The Hunt for the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" Fugitives". CNN. Retrieved December 26, 2009.
- "Shelly Godwin Captured in Dallas". America's Most Wanted. January 25, 2007. Retrieved December 26, 2009.
- "Folsom Prison escapees still on the loose". Folsom Telegraph. October 27, 2010.
- "Two Inmates Escape from Minimum Support Facility at Folsom State Prison".
- "Two Inmates who Walked Away from Folsom Apprehended".
- Staff writers (28 August 2010). "Seven injured as guards open fire in US jail riot". BBC News. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- NBC News staff (19 September 2012). "1 inmate shot, at least 10 injured in Folsom, California, prison riot". Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- Sullivan, James (13 September 2003). "California prison concerts defined outlaw persona". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- Associated Press. Johnny Cash tribute at Folsom prison canceled. January 9, 2008.
- Furillo, Andy (9 January 2008). "Folsom Prison concert is off. The promoter balks at rules to let the media film a tribute to Johnny Cash". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "Ten Most Wanted". FBI. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Folsom State Prison.|
- Folsom State Prison – official site
- California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Official website
- Code of Silence documentary film
- Folsom Embodies California's Prison Blues – August 13, 2009 NPR story
- "Folsom Prison Boasts A Rich History Spanning One Hundred Thirty Years." California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
- Folsom Prison Views 1893-1908 at The Bancroft Library