For over a year, inmate Richard Gilliam has regularly sent us dispatches from prison as part of our Dispatches from the Inside series, to give us a lens into the prison infrastructure housing about 120,000 people in California. During this time, Gilliam has told us about the arbitrary nature of enforcement of the rules, race relations, and watching a cell mate wait too long for critical health care.
San Quentin State Prison has four massive cell blocks, each identified by their cardinal direction: north, south, east, and west. Of the four, only one houses inmates sentenced to death. None of the cell blocks have been visited by a reporter since 2007.