Folsom State Prison, California

Encyclopedia Article


The second oldest correctional facility in California (after San Quentin), Folsom State Prison was opened in 1880, following the California Gold Rush. It is located on the bank of the American River, about 20 miles northeast of Sacramento. It is currently one of 33 prisons managed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Folsom's original 1,800 inmate capacity grew over time to hold up to 2,314 prisoners, although the actual inmate population often exceeds capacity. Some of its notable prisoners include Eldridge Cleaver, who was a leader of the Black Panthers; the LSD guru Timothy Leary; and the cult leader and murderer Charles Manson. The musician Johnny Cash made Folsom Prison famous by first writing the popular song "Folsom Prison Blues," and then, in 1968, recording a live album of a performance he gave at the prison's cafeteria to an audience of enthusiastic inmates.

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"Folsom prison, July 10, 2015" by Bob Miller is licensed under CC BY.

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