California Men's Colony

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
California Men's Colony (CMC)
California Mens Colony CDCR.jpg
LocationSan Luis Obispo County,
near San Luis Obispo, California
Coordinates35°19′30″N 120°41′53″W / 35.325°N 120.698°W / 35.325; -120.698Coordinates: 35°19′30″N 120°41′53″W / 35.325°N 120.698°W / 35.325; -120.698
Security classMinimum to medium (With Maximum on Override)
Population3,414 (88.9% capacity) (as of July 31, 2022[1])
Managed byCalifornia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
WardenDanny Samuel[2]

California Men's Colony (CMC) is a male-only state prison located northwest of the city of San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo County, California, along the central California coast approximately halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.


CMC has two physically separate facilities on its 356 acres (144 ha): East and West. The minimum-security West facility includes Level I ("without a secure perimeter") housing and Level II ("with secure perimeter fences and armed coverage") open dormitories.[3] The medium-security east facility has level III with individual cells, fenced perimeters and armed coverage, with housing divided into four quadrangles, as well as a licensed hospital and mental health delivery system.[3]

As of Fiscal Year 2006/2007, CMC had a total of 1,870 staff and an annual operating budget of $151 million. As of March 2012, the facility's total population was 5,524, or more than 143.9 percent of its design capacity of 3,838.[4]

As of April 30, 2020, CMC was incarcerating people at 97.1% of its design capacity, with 3,727 occupants.[5]


CMC has been called a "country club" and "garden spot" among California prisons because of its wide variety of vocational, educational and psychological-treatment programs.[6][7][8] Notable CMC programs include:

  • Arts in Corrections, "designed to rehabilitate inmates through art." [9]
  • A "Level I camp program for fire suppression, conservation and other community service work." The jobs include "trash pickup and removal" at Port San Luis Harbor District properties, including Avila Beach.[10]
  • Central Coast Adult School, which "aims to reduce the recidivism rate and help inmates rejoin the work force."[11]
  • Prison Industry Authority, which "manufactures and ships millions of dollars of prison-made products annually."[12]
  • Prisoners Against Child Abuse, which "donates more than $100,000 a year to local children's organizations."[12]
  • Narcotics Anonymous.[13][14]
  • Alcoholics Anonymous.[14]


The West Facility opened in 1954 and the East Facility opened in 1961. Three female former CMC workers won a 1998 settlement for $4.3 million as a result of a sexual harassment lawsuit, which was "the largest such settlement ever for the Department of Corrections."[15] A San Luis Obispo County grand jury produced a 2005 report observing that "while old and overcrowded, CMC was well maintained."[16][17] The West facility is slated for closure.[18]

Notable inmates[edit]

  • Bobby Beausoleil, convicted murderer associated with the Manson Family (though convicted of a crime pre-dating the Tate/LaBianca murders), was incarcerated at CMC during the 1990s. His wife, Barbara, lived nearby for years.
  • Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris met at CMC in 1978, before they committed their crime spree.[19]
  • In 1996, Christian Brando was released from CMC "after serving five years of a 10-year term in the fatal shooting of his half sister's boyfriend."[20]
  • Bruce McGregor Davis, convicted Manson Family murderer serving two life sentences for his parts in two Manson Family murders. Parole has been recommended pending governor's review.
  • Richard Allen Davis was paroled from CMC in June 1993 "after serving half of a 16-year sentence" for kidnapping.[21]
  • Rapper Tracy Lamar Davis (a.k.a. Big Tray Deee) was convicted for attempted murder in 2005 for firing at rival gang members. He was sentenced to twelve years in prison but was released after nine years on April 3, 2014.
  • Jim Gordon, the drummer, spent some time at CMC after killing his mother in 1983.[22] As of 2005, however, he was in Atascadero State Hospital.[23]
  • Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson was in CMC between 1984 and October 1986 "for sexually assaulting two teen-age girls and then trying to bribe them not to testify against him."[24][25]
  • Larry Hurwitz. The "Starry Night" murder dominated the headlines in Portland in the 1990s.[citation needed]
  • Maulana Karenga was incarcerated in 1971 after being convicted of felony violence against a woman victim who testified he tortured her.
  • Charles Keating Jr. began his stay at CMC in 1992, but his state and federal convictions were overturned, so he was released in October 1996.[26]
  • Suge Knight was incarcerated at CMC beginning in February 1997 but was later transferred to Mule Creek State Prison.[27][28]
  • Timothy Leary was imprisoned at CMC after being sentenced in March 1970 for possession of marijuana, but escaped from the West facility in September 1970 with the assistance of the Weatherman organization.[29][30] He had been placed in "the least security-rated institution in the state" because "he did not 'represent either violence potential or serious escape risk'."[29] After spending time with Eldridge Cleaver in Algeria and attempting to "gain political asylum" in Switzerland, Leary was arrested in Afghanistan in January 1973.[30] After being convicted of "escape from a minimum security prison," he was sent to California Medical Facility.[31]
  • Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell was at CMC between 2000 and 2004. Much of the film documentary Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell was filmed while Hook was at CMC. Since being released from CMC Hook has started Project Straight Path, a non-profit organization committed to raise the consciousness of youths, desire of youth's interest in education and raise cultural consciousness.[32]
  • Herbert Mullin "spent nearly 20 years" at CMC "before being transferred to Mule Creek in 1993."[33]
  • Prominent Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton was at CMC between 1968 and 1970. He was confined to his cell because he refused to work.
  • Craig Peyer - Former CHP officer convicted of murdering Cara Knott while on duty. His next parole hearing will be in 2027.[34]
  • Mark Rogowski - Former professional skateboarder pleaded guilty on March 20, 1991 to the murder (first-degree) and rape of Jessica Bergsten. Denied parole on March 9, 2016. He will not be eligible for parole for 7 years until March 2023 but may petition to advance his next parole suitability hearing date.
  • Lawrence Singleton in 1987 "earned an early release [from CMC] through a work program and good behavior" after having served 8 years of a 14-year sentence.[35]
  • Edgar Smith, now at High Desert State Prison (California), had a parole hearing in March 2007.[36]
  • Ike Turner served 18 months of a four-year sentence at CMC between March 1990 and September 1991 for cocaine possession offenses.[37][38]
  • Charles "Tex" Watson was at CMC between the early 1970s and 1993, where he "married and fathered three children during conjugal visits" and "began operating a nonprofit Christian ministry that distributed audio tapes and solicited donations."[8] He was then transferred to the medium-security Mule Creek State Prison. A spokesman for the prison stated that the move was "part of the routine shuffling of inmates around the state"; however, others said that it was related to pressure from the family of Sharon Tate, recommendations of the state Board of Prison Terms, and the actions of a state senator.[8]
  • Jean-Pierre Michael Wehry was arrested in the 2006 Riverside, California To Catch a Predator sting. He received the longest sentence in To Catch a Predator history (75 years to life) due to California's three-strikes law and remains incarcerated to this day. He released an autobiography titled In For Life: Confessions of a Three-Strikes Prisoner under the pen name Damien Lartigue.
  • Richard Allen Minsky convicted serial rapist.[39]


  1. ^ "California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Monthly Report of Population As of Midnight July 31, 2022" (PDF). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Internal Oversight and Research. July 31, 2022. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 5, 2022. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  2. ^ CDCR. "CDCR - California Men's Colony (CMC)". Retrieved 2018-03-14.
  3. ^ a b California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. California's Correctional Facilities. Archived 2007-12-14 at the Wayback Machine 15 Oct 2007.
  4. ^ Offender Information Services Branch (3 January 2013). "Monthly Report of Population" (PDF). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 May 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2013. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Monthly Report of Population As of Midnight April 30, 2020" (PDF). California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Internal Oversight and Research. April 30, 2020. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 3, 2020. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  6. ^ Hall, David. Career petty thief, 88, to serve term. Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA), June 20, 1987.
  7. ^ Allison, Ralph B. Is Treatment of Inmates with MPD Possible in Prison? A Debate. The Negative Side of the Question. Archived 2007-12-16 at the Wayback Machine May 6, 1994.
  8. ^ a b c Lifsher, Marc. Manson family member is transferred from men's colony to medium security. Orange County Register. April 30, 1993.
  9. ^ Andrews, Amy. California Men's Colony inmates take to the stage in unique rehab program.[dead link] KSBY-TV, November 20, 2007.
  10. ^ Charlton. April. Cleanup starts at Avila Beach. Santa Maria Times, May 13, 2007.
  11. ^ Chen, Joyce. Steps to a Better Life - California Men's Colony: Inmates Graduate From Adult School. The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, CA), August 25, 2007.
  12. ^ a b Yadegaran, Jessica. Christmas Behind Bars - What's It Like to be a Prisoner This Time of Year? The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, CA), December 15, 2002.
  13. ^ Narcotics Anonymous Meeting Search Results. Archived 2009-07-04 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 09 Dec 2007.
  14. ^ a b California's Prisoners Tell How They See the System. San Francisco Chronicle, August 20, 2000.
  15. ^ Lucas, Greg. Harass Suit Settled With 3 Prison Workers. San Francisco Chronicle, April 3, 1998.
  16. ^ Welton, Nathan, and Cynthia Neff. Safety, Food Costs at CMC Questioned. The Tribune (San Luis Obispo, CA), March 25, 2005.
  17. ^ San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury. 2004–2005 San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury Final Report.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Jones, Chloe (December 6, 2022). "State closing major portion of California Men's Colony prison in San Luis Obispo". The Tribune.
  19. ^ Woodhull, Tim. Crime-fighter still on a mission - South Bay resident prosecutes society's worst offenders. Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA), December 15, 1991.
  20. ^ Stone, Keith. Christian Brando Freed From Prison. Daily News of Los Angeles, January 11, 1996.
  21. ^ Richard Allen Davis' Life of Crime. San Francisco Chronicle, August 6, 1996.
  22. ^ Booe, Martin. Bang the Drum Slowly. The Tragedy of Jim Gordon, Percussionist, Songwriter, Paranoid Schizophrenic, Murderer. Washington Post, July 3, 1994.
  23. ^ Hidden heroes - Sounds. The Times (London, England), October 14, 2005.
  24. ^ "Hollywood" sentenced. Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA), June 12, 1984.
  25. ^ Moore, Terence. Maryland should stop delaying and fire Driesell now. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 24, 1986.
  26. ^ Reckard, E. Scott. Keating, on outside, shrugs off prison experience. Daily Breeze (Torrance, CA), December 4, 1996.
  27. ^ Philips, Chuck. From Gangsta Rap Mogul To Prison Inmate. The Record (New Jersey), January 28, 1998.
  28. ^ Enkoji, M.S. "Suge" Knight shows a sweet spot for kids. Sacramento Bee, December 22, 2000.
  29. ^ a b Kistler, Robert. Leary, Onetime "High Priest" of Drug Culture, Flees Prison. Los Angeles Times, September 14, 1970.
  30. ^ a b Maxwell, Evan. Fugitive Leary Under Arrest in Afghanistan. Los Angeles Times, October 25, 1970.
  31. ^ Leary Admits Mistake in Promotion of LSD. Los Angeles Times, December 15, 1973.
  32. ^ "Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell". Archived from the original on 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-04-29.
  33. ^ Beck, David L. Killer Bids for Freedom - Accused of 13 Slayings in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties and Convicted of 11, Herbert Mullin is Up for Parole Thursday for the Ninth Time. As He Downplays Previous Claims that He Was Influenced to Kill, Opinions are Mixed on Whether He Should Be Freed. San Jose Mercury News, December 26, 2001.
  34. ^ Jones, J. Harry. No parole for ex-CHP officer convicted of killing student. Peyer's next hearing not scheduled until '08. San Diego Union-Tribune, January 8, 2004.
  35. ^ Singleton is Freed in North. Daily News of Los Angeles, April 26, 1987.
  36. ^ Pries, Allison. No parole for contentious Smith - Killer of Ramsey girl argues with board. The Record (Hackensack, NJ), March 15, 2007.
  37. ^ Associated Press. Ike's Free. San Jose Mercury News, September 4, 1991.
  38. ^ Dougherty, Steve (September 3, 1990). "Soul Star on Ice: Divorced by Tina, Ike Turner Pays for His Romance with Cocaine in a California Prison". People magazine. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  39. ^ "Inmate Locator: Minsky, Richard Allen (CDCR #T39189)". California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 2001-12-19. Retrieved 2010-10-26.

External links[edit]