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.”
An 1877 report of the prison directors shows the determination of staff as they dealt with a devastating fire that destroyed sleeping areas for over 200 inmates as well as cooking areas, the mess-hall and workshops. The report also sheds light on the views of prison management regarding rehabilitation efforts. On Feb. 28, 1876, fire swept through part of San Quentin State Prison, destroying “the main workshops and machinery” as well as the kitchens, according to Lt. Gov. James A. Johnson, director of the prison at the time, in his biennial report to the governor. The military and police from San Francisco, numbering 83 strong, helped secure the prison’s perimeter while inmates, staff and firemen from San Francisco fought the blaze.
Former Correctional Officer William Conroy, who worked at San Quentin from 1903 to 1907, wrapped up his series on prison life by giving his opinions on where real prison reform should begin. The story was published in the Santa Cruz Evening News, Jan. 5, 1912. This is the last of his series. Just five years after these stories were originally published, Conroy was killed in a vehicle accident. He was 45 years old.
Former correctional officer William Conroy, who worked at San Quentin from 1903 to 1907, describes typical job duties for a guard at the prison. This was part of a series he wrote for a newspaper and it published on Jan. 4, 1912. Conroy also describes the layout of the guard post and procedures.
Former Correctional Officer William Conroy, who worked at San Quentin from 1903 to 1907, described what visitors saw when they toured San Quentin prison. The story was published in the Santa Cruz Evening News, Jan. 3, 1912. This was part of a short series Conroy wrote for the newspaper. At the time it was published, Conroy worked for the Santa Cruz Fire Department.
“If I remember right, it is about 1,800 pounds of flour a day, six sacks of potatoes, about 25 pounds of coffee, while 10 or 12 (sides of beef) come to the prison every week. The beef all comes in quarters from the city. Then there are oatmeal and syrup. The prison food is good, and (there is) plenty of it – a prisoner can help himself to all he wants of bread and beans, spuds and mush; but the meat is dished out to him by waiters (as well as) the syrup and sugar. A prisoner gets sugar two times a week. The kind that is used at the prison is what is known as golden C, which is of a light brown color, and can be pressed into a cone the same as an ice cream cone,” wrote former Correctional Officer William Conroy in 1912 as he describes the food served in state prisons.