The Nation: Closing Q

San Quentin belongs in American folklore as the kind of place where George Raft and a thousand other cons would pound their tin cups to scare the screws, a Cagneyesque sort of stir with even a certain nostalgic romance about it. Its reality, of course, has always been bleaker. Before Warden Clinton Duffy took over in 1940 and turned "Q" for a time into a model for penal reform, the vast sand-colored fortress on San Francisco Bay offered sadistic guards, shaved heads, the airless "hole" for solitary, dinner out of buckets and a gallows painted baby blue. But then, San Quentin...

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