In 2002, the departmental newsletter published this piece on Correctional Officer Mike Begley in his role as second watch desk officer at San Quentin State Prison’s East Block, one of three housing units for condemned inmates. At the time, Officer Begley was a 14-year San Quentin veteran.
With little information at hand, unedited film clips of inmates and staff performing gave no indication of when the film was shot or by whom. There was no audio in the film. After searching, it turns out to be from the 1942 movie “The Men of San Quentin.”
Dusting off a series of undated raw film clips, Inside CDCR found the name of an Academy Award winning special effects cinematographer appearing throughout silent footage of San Quentin. Judging by clues in the film, it appears to have been shot in 1917 or 1918. Another source said clues point to sometime between 1930 and 1933.
The department published this story in the March-April 2002 edition of CDC Today as a Day in the Life of basic adult education instructor Linda Nielsen at Folsom State Prison. She retired in 2005.
In CDCR’s archives, a newsreel from January 1942 claims to be the first ever filmed inside San Quentin State Prison. The reel is narrated by then-Warden Clinton Duffy and details some of the day-to-day operations of the prison as well as their willingness to do their part for the war effort. It makes numerous references to the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.
In the video archives at CDCR headquarters, exterior and interior shots of San Quentin were recently uncovered. While there is no date on the footage, some clues appear throughout such as the cars in the background, the style of dress of those in the film and the lack of a bridge over the bay. The parking lot below the prison is also absent. It took some sleuthing, but the raw footage comes from the 1937 film “San Quentin” and was shot by film pioneer Hans Koenekamp.
In a short film recently uncovered in the archives of CDCR’s video unit, comedian Bob Hope quips about San Quentin and welcomes inmates to a rehabilitative program at the prison. The film appears to be from the 1960s but Hope’s relationship with the prison dates back to 1946.
If not for the heroic efforts of Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) Correctional Officer Cindy Brockway, a 20-year-old Sacramento woman would not be alive today.
The push for rehabilitation is nothing new in CDCR. Around 1950, it was even the subject of a short documentary at San Quentin. CDCR cracks open this video time capsule to revisit the almost seven decades ago.
Inside CDCR unearths this 1987 look at women in corrections. The story was an effort at the time to encourage more women to join the department. Daniel J. McCarthy, the director at the time, said, “I feel anything is available to any employee, regardless of their gender, if they have the proper motivation, background experience and education.”