CDCR Time Capsule 1950: Training emphasized professionalism, rehabilitation

CDCR Time Capsule 1950: Training emphasized professionalism, rehabilitation

A 1950 departmental training manual breaks down four-years of training into 20 pages. The introduction was written by Director of Corrections Richard A. McGee. After the complete restructuring of the state’s correctional department in 1944, McGee’s efforts to raise the bar of professional standards brought about statewide training. Walter Dunbar, who would later become the director, is listed as the state training officer. The manual states it is the duty of the correctional officers and the department to ensure the “education and rehabilitation of the human beings incarcerated in the institutions.”

Unlocking History: Ranger, soldier William Byrnes was SQ captain in 1850s

Unlocking History: Ranger, soldier William Byrnes was SQ captain in 1850s

A veteran of multiple wars was one of the early correctional staff at what would eventually become San Quentin State Prison. Capt. William “Bill” Wallace Byrnes, of the California and Texas Rangers, was a veteran of the Mexican American War as well as many conflicts with Native Americans. When Gen. James Estell held the contract to run the state prison in the 1850s, he was eager to hire Byrnes, based largely on his war record. Byrnes served two years in his role in prison management before being called away to war once again.

Unlocking History: Shanghai river policeman ends up at San Quentin in 1904

Unlocking History: Shanghai river policeman ends up at San Quentin in 1904

Those who walk the toughest beat in the state deal with people who made very poor choices. From car thieves to thrill seekers, the reasons some of those early inmates landed in state prisons are varied. The following inmate, who served his time in the early 1900s, was a police officer who almost sparked an international incident. Joseph Gustav Munz put on a badge and patrolled the river in Shanghai to help keep the navigation channels open. Munz killed a Chinese citizen and his 1904 case strained relations between the two countries. To help calm the situation, Munz was loaded on a boat and sent to America to serve his sentence in San Quentin.

Unlocking History: Dynamiting inmate doctor helps shape prison hospital

Unlocking History: Dynamiting inmate doctor helps shape prison hospital

A Santa Rosa health retreat was the scene of an explosion Feb. 5, 1910, when a mother and her 9-month-old baby barely escaped with their lives. Investigators quickly turned their attention to the proprietor of the sanitarium – Dr. Willard Preble Burke. The aged physician claimed the woman was attempting suicide, but police soon discovered motive and means, all pointing to Burke. He was sent to San Quentin, where he turned his medical skills to helping new prison doctor Leo Stanley