Author Archives: John C. Eagan

Volunteers’ caroling brings joy to SQ inmates

By John C. Eagan About 75 volunteers braved frigid weather to bring an evening of Christmas caroling to thousands of inmates in their cells and dorms at San Quentin State Prison. “I saw a lot of joy,” said volunteer Steve Howell, music director at Tiburon Baptist Church. He led a group of about a dozen […]

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Prisoners & Volunteers Sing Christmas Carols

By John C. Eagan Adviser, San Quentin News “It was wonderful … Thank you so much … It made me feel human.” Those were some of the prisoners’ reactions to the Christmas caroling by a group of volunteers who strolled through San Quentin cell blocks and dormitories on Dec. 19. Most of the inmates stopped […]

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37 Years After the Notorious Jonestown Massacre

By John C. Eagan San Quentin News Adviser Jackie Speier was catapulted into national prominence when her congressman boss was murdered, and she survived five gunshot wounds in the notorious Jonestown massacre 37 years ago. As a staffer for The Associated Press, I wrote many stories about Speier and Jonestown then and over the years, […]

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Prison Art On Display for Good Causes

By John C. Eagan Tucked away in prison cells across America are talented artists who are working to turn their lives around and help make the world a better place, says a lady who is exhibiting inmate-produced animal paintings and drawings. “I would like the show to provoke questions on the part of the viewing […]

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Governor Brown Appoints New CDCR Chief

By John C. Eagan Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed the former head of Pennsylvania’s prisons system to take over as secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He is Jeffrey Beard, 65, who replaces Matthew Cate, who resigned in November to become executive director of the California State Association of Counties. Beard’s appointment […]

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Voters Amend Three Strikes Law

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT UPHELD BY A NARROW MARGIN OF STATE VOTERS By John C. Eagan Voters have approved major changes to the Three Strikes Law, but rejected attempts to abolish capital punishment in California. With most of the Nov. 6 votes tallied, the Three Strikes Law, Proposition 36, won 69.1 percent to 30.9 percent. The vote […]

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Judge Rejects Ending Medical Receivership

John Eagan The federal judge who ordered major improvement in California prison medical care has refused to end the receivership he imposed in 2006. “Evidence of progress made under the direction and control of the receiver does not constitute evidence of [the state’s] own will, capacity, and leadership to maintain a constitutionally adequate system of […]

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Free After 20 Years In Prison

By John C. Eagan After spending more than 20 years in prison for a crime he insists he didn’t commit, Maurice A. Caldwell says, “I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.” Caldwell, 44, spoke to a group of about 40 residents of The Redwoods, a senior citizen residence in Mill Valley. […]

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California’s Prisoner Segregation Scrutinized

By John Eagan Big changes are on the horizon for California’s solitary confinement policies. In the wake of hunger strikes, public protests and a complaint to the United Nations, California prison officials are gearing up for policy changes expected to dramatically reduce the number of prisoners in solitary lockups. State prisons chief Matthew Cate announced […]

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Death Row Chaplain Recalls S.Q. Executions

By JOHN C. EAGAN It was a time when the San Quentin gas chamber was busy executing convicted felons – sometimes two at a time. The Rev. Byron E. Eshelman was the spiritual adviser to many of those who breathed their last in the famous prison’s gas chamber beside San Francisco Bay. After witnessing numerous […]

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