Friday, November 5, 2010

Folsom State Prison Celebrates 130 Years of Public Safety, Notoriety and Community Participation

Free Admission to Folsom Prison Museum Through Nov. 24

REPRESA – Folsom State Prison, the state’s second-oldest prison, kicks off a celebration tonight of 130 years of public safety service. The Folsom community will join in recognizing the correctional facility’s unique history and unusual status as a popular Northern California tourist destination.

As part of the celebration, admission to the Folsom Prison Museum will be free through Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving. The museum is on the grounds of the state’s iconic correctional facility.

The initial celebration tonight in the Folsom Community Center, 52 Natoma St., will feature special exhibits and activities acknowledging the prison’s role as the region’s first – and possibly oldest – ongoing local employer.

“While Folsom State Prison enjoys a legendary status not many prisons can claim, it is a living, working correctional facility that continues –130 years later – to house, feed and provide rehabilitation opportunities for inmates in the state prison system,” said Scott Kernan, Undersecretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). “We appreciate the Folsom community’s ongoing support for this legacy institution and for the welfare of the men and women who work there.”

The prison was formally opened July 26, 1880, with the transfer of 44 of San Quentin State Prison’s toughest “cons” as the first inhabitants. By September 1880, the prison had a population of 208 inmates. The single-cell capacity of the prison at that time was 328, hewn from steel, iron and granite generated from local forges and quarries.

Today, the prison, with its own ZIP code and locale referred to as “Represa,” houses nearly 3,600 Level II and III medium-security inmates and has 1,100 staff. Folsom State Prison and the adjacent California State Prison, Sacramento, built in 1986, sit on 1,200 acres.

Sponsors of tonight’s 500-seat event, which is nearly sold out, include the Folsom Prison Museum, Folsom Tourism Bureau and the Correctional Peace Officer’s Foundation, Inc.

Folsom State Prison Warden Rick Hill said the role of the prison in the community remains pivotal. He said his institution regularly fields requests from area nonprofit and civic organizations for assistance on a variety of community projects.

“Folsom State Prison, its employees and inmates have provided services to the community and the CDCR for 130 years,” Hill said. “It is appropriate the prison’s storied past, which is rich in history and tradition, be celebrated and shared with all.”

Hill encourages anyone who has never visited the museum to take advantage of the free admission through Nov. 24 to learn more about Folsom State Prison’s ties to local and state growth, politics and the criminal justice system.

The four-room museum features hundreds of exhibits and artifacts dating back to the 1878 construction of Folsom State Prison as one of the country’s first maximum-security prisons. The 2,100-square-foot museum occupies one of the oldest buildings on the prison grounds, a house built in 1875 by the Natoma Mining Company.

Also tonight, Joel Eis, owner of Marin County’s The Rebound Bookstore, will “return to state custody” the original printer’s proof of a 1940 edition about Folsom State Prison. The book, printed in the prison print shop, details the prison’s history up to that point. Eis discovered the artifact as part of his business and wanted to make sure it was returned to the State.

The book, entitled As Prescribed by Law: a Treatise on Folsom State Prison, notes it was “generated in the print shop at Represa.” The volume is illustrated with hand-carved woodcuts and hand-mounted photographs. While the printer’s proof is unnumbered, the book states that 75 copies were planned.

Eis said it appeared to be a gift from Albert Mundt to the warden at San Quentin State Prison, Clinton Duffy, in September 1941. Mundt, who later became a Sacramento Superior Court judge, was working as a clerk at the prison at the time.

“We are so incredibly excited to see this book,” said former correctional officer and Folsom State Museum curator Jim Brown. “No one I know has ever seen a copy of it. It was something we only heard about, but could never find a copy.”

In addition Brown will be signing copies of his second book about the prison entitled 130 years of the Folsom Prison Legend, at the event.

Brown serves as chief historian for the museum and assists in its day-to-day operations.

Museum fees and funds generated by picture sales go to four specific charities: the American Cancer Society, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Magic Wish, and a new recipient, Fisher House, which provides housing support for the families of returning military personnel who have lost limbs or suffered other disabilities and are undergoing physical therapy.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.

For more information about or directions, please call the museum at (916) 985-2561 extension 4589 or visit their website Or visit the Folsom Tourism Bureau website at:

Please also visit our 130 year historical tribute to Folsom prison at

Contact: George Kostyrko (916) 445-4950