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Famous Inmates at San Quentin State Prison

Updated June 4, 2018 587.2k views73 items

List RulesNotable prisoners at San Quentin

List of Famous Inmates at San Quentin State Prison ranked by fame and notoriety. San Quentin State Prison is a corrections and rehabilitation state prison located in California. In 1969, Johnny Cash played the famous “At San Quentin” concert at the prison. He performed his anti-prison song “San Quentin” twice during the set as it was met with huge cheers and applause.

Who is the most famous inmate at San Quentin State Prison? Manson family leader Charles Manson tops our list. Manson has been transferred to many different prison facilities throughout his sentence. He famously filmed a 1987 interview with the “Today Show” during his time at San Quentin. The full interview footage wasn't seen by audiences until MSNBC aired “The Mind of Manson” in 2007.

Serial killer William Bonin also spent time at San Quentin State Prison. Bonin, known as the Freeway Killer, committed the rape, torture and murder of at least 21 boys and young men. He was executed at San Quentin by lethal injection in 1996. He was the first person to be executed in this manner in the history of California.

What do you think of the famous inmates of San Quentin State Prison? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
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  • Charles Manson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Inmates at San Quentin State Prison
    Photo: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    Charles Milles Manson (né Maddox, November 12, 1934 – November 19, 2017) was an American criminal and cult leader. In mid-1967, he formed what became known as the Manson Family, a quasi-commune based in California. Manson's followers committed a series of nine murders at four locations in July and August 1969. According to the Los Angeles County district attorney, Manson plotted to start a race war, though he and others involved long disputed this motive. In 1971, he was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people. Although the prosecution conceded that Manson never literally ordered the murders, they contended that his ideology... more on Wikipedia
    • Age: 85
    • Birthplace: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America

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  • William Bonin is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Inmates at San Quentin State Prison
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    William George Bonin (January 8, 1947 – February 23, 1996), also known as the Freeway Killer, was an American serial killer and twice-paroled sex offender who committed the rape, torture, and murder of a minimum of 21 boys and young men in a series of killings in 1979 and 1980 in southern California. Bonin is also suspected of committing a further 15 murders. Described by the prosecutor at his first trial as "the most arch-evil person who ever existed", Bonin was convicted of 14 of the murders linked to the "Freeway Killer" in two separate trials in 1982 and 1983. He spent 14 years on death row before he was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison on February 23, 1996.Bonin... more on Wikipedia
    • Age: Dec. at 49 (1947-1996)
    • Birthplace: Connecticut

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  • Henry Cowell is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Inmates at San Quentin State Prison
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    Henry Dixon Cowell (; March 11, 1897 – December 10, 1965) was an American composer, music theorist, pianist, teacher, publisher, and impresario. His contribution to the world of music was summed up by Virgil Thomson, writing in the early 1950s: Henry Cowell's music covers a wider range in both expression and technique than that of any other living composer. His experiments begun three decades ago in rhythm, in harmony, and in instrumental sonorities were considered then by many to be wild. Today they are the Bible of the young and still, to the conservatives, "advanced."... No other composer of our time has produced a body of works so radical and so normal, so penetrating and so... more on Wikipedia
    • Age: Dec. at 68 (1897-1965)
    • Birthplace: Menlo Park, California

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  • Hans Thomas Reiser (born December 19, 1963) is an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, and convicted murderer. In April 2008, Reiser was convicted of the first-degree murder of his wife, Nina Reiser, who disappeared in September 2006. He subsequently pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder, as part of a settlement agreement that included disclosing the location of his wife's body, which he revealed to be in a shallow grave near the couple's home. Prior to his incarceration, Reiser created the ReiserFS computer file system, which is contained within the Linux kernel, as well as its attempted successor, Reiser4. In 2004, he founded Namesys, a corporation meant to... more on Wikipedia
    • Age: 56
    • Birthplace: Oakland, California
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