I had heard of San Quentin prison before I heard about it. I only knew San Quentin through the excellent record Johnny Cash recorded there, but throughout the years you start to read and see thing about California’s oldest prison. The gangs, the lifers and in the inmates on deathrow waiting for the gas chamber. A happy place it is not.

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A handout picture shows the exterior of San Quentin prison in California. San Quentin prison is California's oldest correctional facility and houses the state's only gas chamber. HANDOUT/REUTERS

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A handout picture shows the exterior of San Quentin prison in California. HANDOUT/REUTERS

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Marvin Caldwell, 63, looks out of his cell at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Marvin Caldwell looks out of his cell at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Inmates walk outside their cells at San Quentin state prison in San Quentin. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Jimmy Merjil, 70, who said he was serving life under the three strikes law for petty theft, sits in his cell at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Albert Ruiz, 50, who is on death row for murder, is led down a corridor at San Quentin state prison in San Quentin. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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An inmate talks on the phone at San Quentin state prison in San Quentin. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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An inmate visits a dentist in the medical facility at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Inmates leave the exercise yard at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Chris Willis, 34, works out in the exercise yard at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Martell Collins, 51, does push-ups in the exercise yard at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Chris Willis, 34, works out in the exercise yard at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Prisoners play table tennis in the exercise yard at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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The entrance to death row is seen at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Albert Ruiz, 50, who is on death row for murder, is led down a corridor at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Albert Ruiz, 50, who is on death row for murder, is led down a corridor at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Administrative segregation prisoners take part in a group therapy session at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Cory Adams watches a movie from a cage in the medical facility at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Cory Adams, 25, sits in a cage in the medical facility at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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An administrative segregation prisoner exercises at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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A handout picture shows the North Segregation unit San Quentin prison in California. HANDOUT/REUTERS

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A handout picture shows a gas chamber at San Quentin prison in California. HANDOUT/REUTERS

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Inmates walk in at San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Inmates are escorted by a guard through San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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Inmates walk through San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

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San Quentin post office is seen outside San Quentin state prison. LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS

Jul 18, 2012