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California State Prisons

23500 Kasson Road, Tracy, CA  95376, (209) 835-4141

This prison, located in the San Joaquin Valley about thirty miles east of San Francisco, has two purposes.  First and in most cases, it is a reception area for newly-committed folks from Northern California jails who will be serving time in prison.  You or your loved one will be transferred there for evaluation and orientation before being assigned to another state prison within California.  This means you, he or she will mix with the full spectrum of felons, both violent and non-violent.

Deuel, as one can understand, has a high level of violence due to this mix of prisoners, many of whom are new to being incarcerated and thus are frustrated.  Allegedly, after the prison opened in 1953, the Mexican Mafia was formed there in 1956.  This alleged fact has perpetuated Deuel’s reputation for being a violent, unsafe place.  The facility used to be referred to as "gladiator school" by inmates and staff, because the prison was widely known for the fights and homicides that took place within the prison walls.  The most recent murder within the prison was 2010.

The second purpose is a general prison with Level 1 (minimal security) and Level II (medium security) inmates.

The prison operates a dairy with 1,200 head of cattle. 550 are milked on any given day. Minimum security prisoners work the dairy as well as an adjacent 450 acres of land that grows corn, oats and alfalfa for the cattle.  The prison also has a furniture fabrication plant that some of the prisoners work.

General Population inmates also have the opportunity to attend education programs that include Adult Basic Education, GED programs, Career Technical Education (Computer Literacy, Building Maintenance, Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning - HVAC, Auto Body Repair) and a multitude of other voluntary programs that afford the inmates an opportunities for self-improvement and possibly extra custody credits under Prop 57 to make one’s release date earlier.

The city of Tracy is in a bit of a triangle, east of I-5, I-580 to the southwest and I 205 to the north.  The prison is named after California State Senator Charles H. Deuel.  In January, 2006, there were approximately 3,700 inmates assigned to Deuel, of which about 3,100 were assigned to the reception center.

300 Prison Road, Represa, CA  95671 (916) 985-2561

This prison is located in the City of Folsom, twenty miles northeast of Sacramento.  The prison is located next to the large Folsom Dam.  It is the state’s second-oldest prison (opening in 1880), having been the first maximum security prison in California after the Gold Rush (1848).

The oldest prison is San Quentin, just outside San Francisco.  Folsom is the first prison in California to have electricity, but this luxury at the time should not be misleading.  Folsom was known as having some of the harshest conditions of California prisons, especially when it was a maximum-security prison.

When it first opened in 1880, inmates spent most of their time in the dark in four foot by eight-foot cells behind solid steel doors with six-inch eye slats.  Nowadays, it primarily houses medium security (Level II) prisoners, although it has housed death row inmates, too.  Ninety-three of its occupants were hanged there between 1895 and 1937, after which time inmates on death row went to the gas chamber at San Quentin.  As might be expected, due to its harsh conditions and desperate inmates, there were numerous creative escape attempts and successes during this time.

The prison is best known for two concerts Johnny Cash famously played there for the inmates in the late 1960’s.  More recently, the prison was famous for housing Suge Knight, Charles Manson, Erik Menendez and Timothy Leary.  The prison has a metal shop, print shop and a quarry.  The rocks from the quarry were used to build the State Capitol in Sacramento.  The prison also does make license plates, having done so since the 1930’s.

For High Desert Prison (HDSP) to Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) please click here.

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