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San Quentin State Prison

1 Main Street
San Quentin, CA 94964-1000
Phone: (415) 454-1460

Interview with Rick

JM: How long was your sentencing for?
Rick: 4 years.

JM: Did you spend time in a holding cell after your sentencing? If so, what was that like? If you didn't where did they they take you instead?
Rick: Roughly I was in Santa Clara for 13 months. There was a lot of shit going on in there. Riots, people getting beat with rocks, bedframe pieces. It was wild.

Have you ever passed San Quentin State Prison and wondered what goes on behind those locked doors? Maybe you or someone you love is looking at serving some time in this facility. If so, you may be nervous and wondering what to expect.

Going to jail can be scary, but having the right information can help you feel more prepared for the experience. We have interviewed former inmates of San Quentin, who have shared information ranging from what court is like to what food the inmates eat. You can access these interviews by clicking the links to the left. Take a few minutes to read their stories and learn what life is really like in San Quentin State Prison.

Getting Out Early
To deal with problems of overcrowding, many jails and prisons allow inmates to get out in less time than they are sentenced to. In San Quentin, inmates can get out after serving only half their sentenced time. To get this time off, an inmate needs to follow the rules and avoid bringing negative attention to them self. One inmate reported losing some of his time off because he was caught getting a tattoo.

Telephones and Visits
Keeping in touch with friends and family on the outside is a high priority for most inmates. San Quentin allows inmates to have visitors on the weekends. Visits are held in a room with small tables, where hands have to be showing at all times.

Kids are allowed in the visits. Many people play cards during their visits. The visits usually last from 30-45 minutes, but if there aren't people waiting, you can usually visit longer. The prison also allows inmates longer visits on holiday weekends.

The prison provides telephones for inmates to use. There is a row of about 9 phones in the living areas, but there are usually lines to use one. The phones are generally turned on after breakfast and turned off at 9pm. Phone calls are monitored and are pretty expensive.

Inmates are issued denim pants, blue shirts and all white underwear. Inmates can order ball caps or beanies from the jail commissary if they have money on their books.

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