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The History of Prisons in California (San Francisco)

  • Man y’s 3092 16th Street San Francisco, CA, 94103 United States (map)

California's prison system started as a privately-run barge anchored in the Bay, and was embroiled in corruption, political scandal, and violence. Since then, our system has grown to incarcerate more people than the population of Berkeley. Prisons represent the power of the state in its most raw and basic form, and 167 years later Californians are still confronting the same fundamental questions: Why do we incarcerate people, what happens when they leave, and can we do better?

Jared Rudolph is an attorney at the San Francisco Office of the Public Defender and the founder of Prisoner Reentry Network (, a non-profit that supports successful transitions from incarceration to the community.