The Law: Alternatives to Prison

The south block of San Quentin prison, once the largest cell block in the world, now houses only a few dozen sparrows. The prison's clothing factory has shut down, and so has the mattress plant. San Quentin today contains only 1,500 convicts, as compared with 6,000 ten years ago; by 1975 the century-old fortress will be closed forever.

The decay of the antique buildings provides part of the reason, but San Quentin is also the victim of a spreading view that prisons simply do not work. Over the past two years, judges in Arkansas, California...

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