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A view of the California State Prison at San Quentin May 15, 2009. San Quentin houses California's male death row.
San Quentin Prison is only a half hour from San Francisco, but you wouldn’t know that from the inside.
California prisons are huge, overcrowded and have a culture and economy all their own. In part, because of the lifers. People serving lifetime sentences in California are unlike prisoners in other states: the Governor has to sign off on their parole, even when the parole board strongly recommends their release. It’s one of only three states with the policy. In practice, that means that no matter how many years a convicted murderer has served, no matter how much prison officials believe the inmate is ready to return to society, parole is never granted. Because no governor will risk their name for a convict who may commit another crime.
Radio reporter and author Nancy Mullane gained deep access to San Quentin, forming relationships with five lifers there. She tells their stories in her book, "Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption."
Nancy Mullane, author, "Life after Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption;" She is also working on a two hour radio documentary of the men’s stories