Selected Stories From Past Issues of The San Quentin News
APRIL 1981 – Correctional Officer Gerald Riley, 26, was seriously injured after being stabbed in the chest with a 36-inch, spear-like weapon while working in the adjustment center. The weapon was made of rolled up newspapers with a five–inch knife attached to the tip. The assailant, Warren Jordan, was charged last November with stabbing the chairman of the Board of Prison Terms and a deputy district attorney at a parole hearing held at San Quentin.
APRIL 1981 – A federal judge issued a final order in the nine–year–old Texas prison reform case, ordering sweeping changes in the nation’s largest prison system. The order requires the state to double its ratio of guards to inmates and give many prisoners separate cells, among the many changes ordered by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.
APRIL 1981 – The head of the state’s prison programs, Howard Way, has warned that carrying out California’s new, tough sentencing laws is going to cost taxpayers whopping sums of money. He told Californians to prepare for a drastic increase in prison and jail populations.
HISTORICAL PERSRECTIVE – the state prison population in 1981 was 24,500 inmates. There was $27 million in the state’s 1981–82 budget for prison construction. Each new bed added to the prison system costs $70,000 to $80,000.
APRIL 1981 – A new fluoroscope machine for examining the contents of sealed packages has been installed at R&R. Anything with substance shows up on the new machine – including potato chips. R&R has been without a fluoroscope for a year and-a-half since the old one was transferred to the adjustment center.
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE – Charles Sickles, a wood products foreman in the furniture factory at S.Q., was assaulted and killed by an intoxicated inmate worker on Mar. 30, 1981. It was the first employee death in several years.
APRIL 1981 – Following the death last month of furniture factory supervisor Charles Sickles, stronger security measures have been instituted at the factory. More cops and no fruit on the lunch menu that can be used to ferment “pruno” are among the new changes. No lockers will be provided for workers as pruno can be stored in them.
APRIL 1981 – Robert Alton Harris, 28, was told to prepare to die July 7 in the state’s gas chamber for shooting to death two 16-year-old boys after stealing their car for a bank holdup. The California Supreme Court upheld Harris’s conviction Feb. 11.
APRIL 1981 – A contemporary gospel group, Shekeniah, will be appearing at the Garden Chapel Saturday evening. The group, composed of eight students from the Golden Gate Baptist Seminary in Marin County, sings at churches and school affairs.