San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin

Requested to evaluate the potential health and safety issues relative to dust in the alleys between cells.

The sampling and testing was limited to Alley Ways and Cat Walks (6th Tier) in the South and West Blocks. This was NOT a complete inspection of the area or of the materials in the areas where samples were taken. The purpose was to determine potential hazardous materials in the dust. Analysis included asbestos, lead, mold (viable & non-viable), CAM 17, respirable dust, airborne asbestos and lead concentrations.

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San Quentin State Prison is California’s oldest and best known correctional institution, which was established on the site currently known as Point San Quentin, in July of 1852, as an answer to the rampant lawlessness in California at the time. During its construction, inmates slept on the prison ship, the Waban, at night and labored to build the new prison during the day. San Quentin housed both male and female inmates until 1933 when the women’s prison at Tehachapi was built. The prison rests overlooking the bay on 432 acres, and is located just 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge in the county of Marin. The walled prison is made up of four (4) large cell blocks (West, South, North, and East Block), one (1) maximum security cell block (the Adjustment Center), Central Health Care Service Building, a medium security dorm setting and a minimum security firehouse. The state’s only gas chamber and death row for all male condemned inmates are located at San Quentin.

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The area that San Quentin State Prison sits on was originally named, “Puenta de Quentin” after the Native American Chief Quentin (“Kaynteen”). The actual spelling and pronunciation has been obscured in history. However, a 1834 Spanish land grant clearly establishes the name “Puenta de Quentin”. The U.S. Coast Survey Team of 1850 named the site, Point San Quentin.

San Quentin State Prison is California’s oldest correctional institution. It was built in July 1852 on the site known as Point San Quentin, Marin County. The 20 acres of land was purchased for $10.000.

San Quentin was initially established to replace a prison ship known as the Waban. There are no historical proof of facts, but folklore has it that on July 14, 1852, (Bastille Day {French Revolution}) the Waban arrived off shore with 40 to 50 convicts. San Quentin State Prison has been known as the “Bastille by the Bay”.

By October 12, 1852, a contract to build the first cell block had been negotiated.