Few Inmates Are Working at California’s Dilapidated San Quentin Prison

At California’s historic San Quentin prison, only a few hundred of 4,500 inmates seem to be working at prison-industries-type jobs at any time, writes Michael Rushford of the Crime and Justice Legal Foundation on the Crime & Consequences blog. Describing a recent prison tour, Rushford says, “Everywhere we went in San Quentin, including the factories and the main cell block, there were many inmates just hanging around doing nothing. Clearly there is not enough work to keep the bulk of the criminals at San Quentin busy. Why not?”

Inmates over 40 years old said programs at the prison had changed their lives, but young inmates may believe that “education and treatment programs were for suckers,” Rushford says “Programs are clearly a waste of money for the vast majority of criminals who simply aren’t interested.” He notes that “San Quentin is a very old, dilapidated facility sitting on 442 acres of the most valuable real estate in California. It should be torn down and the property sold off. Some fraction of the profit should be used to built a modern prison in a less expensive part of California.”

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