Location: Represa, CA
Notable Residents: Danny Trejo, Rick James, Suge Knight, Charles Manson, Erik Menendez, Glen Stewart Godwin, Eldridge Cleaver, Edward Bunker
Amenities: Each cell has storage space
Folsom State Prison is located 20 miles northeast of the California state capital, Sacramento. Open since 1880, it is the oldest prison in the state next to San Quentin State Prison. It was one of the first maximum-security prisons in the U.S., and the first to have electricity. Folsom follows the tragically consistent trend of many California prisons in that it's grossly overpopulated, housing nearly 3,000 inmates, well past its capacity of nearly 2,500. It features five housing units, including the original two-tier structure. Unit 1 is the most populated cell block in the U.S., holding nearly 1,200 inmates. Each cell has a toilet, sink, bunk, and storage space. The prison has a large exercise yard and two smaller ones, two dining halls, and a visiting room with a patio and space for non-contact visits.
After the state took control of the death penalty in 1891, executions were carried out there and at San Quentin. Ninety-three prisoners were hanged at Folsom between 1895 and 1937, before the gas chamber became the execution method of choice. Because it was one of the earliest maximum-security prisons, inmates were eager to escape, and several attempted before a huge, granite wall was built in 1920. An officer and the warden were stabbed to death during a 1937 escape attempt, and 50 years later, Glen Stewart Godwin landed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List after escaping. He was arrested in Mexico in 1991, but broke out of jail again and remains at large. Two more inmates escaped in 2010 and are still on the loose.
Violence at the prison reached its peak during the 1970s and 1980s, when tensions between the Aryan Brotherhood and other gangs made for an extremely hostile environment. Aside from the negativity, Folsom has several inmate programs, including vocational, academic, and a PIA program were inmates make license plates. There's also a sign shop and furniture factory. The prison was popularized (imagine that) by the Man in Black himself, Johnny Cash, who spun a fictional tale about it on "Folsom Prison Blues." Cash also performed two live concerts at Folsom in 1966 and 1968, the latter of which was recorded and released as the album, At Folsom Prison. Folsom has appeared in several films including American Me, Another 48 Hrs., Heat, and, of course, the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line.