IN THE ASSEMBLY.]
[SESSION OF 1853.
STATE PRISON COIMISSIONEES.
[GEORGE KERR, STATE PRINTER.
STATE PRISON COMMISSIONERS.
Office of Superintendent of Public Buildings.
To the Honorable Speaker of the House of Representatives of the State
of California : —
The undersigned, appointed Commissioners by Act of the Legislature
May 1st, 1852, to select a suitable location for a State Prison and to con-
tract for the building of the same, have discharged the duty thus devolving
upon them, and beg leave to report :
That duly impressed with the importance and responsibility of the
trust confided to them, they proceeded directly after their appointment to
examine and survey the points which were at first recommended to their
consideration, as the most appropriate localities for the site of a permanent
prison. Their attention was in the outset directed to Goats Island, oppo-
site to the City of San Francisco, and if security alone against the escape
of convicts was to be considered, this Island would have been entitled to
a first choice ; but after diligent investigation, the undersigned could not
determine in whom the ownership of this island was vested, and not be-
ing authorized to purchase under a doubtful or insecure title, this locality
Angel Island was the next site considered, but no warranty of a title
could here be obtained, and without considering its advantages, it was
necessarily passed. It was deemed important that the prison should be
built on some point contiguous to the Bay of San Francisco, and passing
by the two islands before mentioned, the most suitable locality was found
at Point St. Q,uentin, near the mission of San Rafael, and distant from
San Francisco about twelve miles. No other place on the bay appeared
to the undersigned to possess superior or equal advantages. It is within
the line of steamboat navigation, and easy and safe of access. It is an
elevated, healthy and conspicuous point ; good water is obtained on the
ground, and abundance of wood in the neighborhood. Quarries of stone
suitable for building purposes, apparently inexhaustable, are found within
the prison limits and immediate vicinity. Clay, well adapted for the
manufacture of brick, forms the substratum of the ground selected, and it
has been demonstrated by actual practice, that the convicts can be worked
to advantage upon the ground now designated as the prison limits.
Ten thousand dollars, the amount appropriated for the purchase of a
site, were paid for thirty acres (20 acres) of land on Point St. Quentin ;
but the contract provides for the building of a wharf leading to sixteen
feet water in the bay, without charge to the State, and to be free forever
to its use.
The undersigned having thus far, they believe, without impeachment
of motive, discharged faithfully their duty to the State, proceeded next
to contract for the building of the Prison, and in passing, they must be
permitted to refer to the gratuitous and vindictive assaults which have
been made upon them personally, and upon their official action by the
public press, or by malicious and irresponsible persons availing them-
selves of this mode of attack. The malignity of interested Stock Bro-
kers ; the harpies who live by crying up and down the State credit, the
moths who feed and fatten upon State script : the " Bulls and Bears" who
gamble in State securities can.iot be measured by argument, or silenced
by facts ; and it would be extra official, and not comport with our self
respect to analyze pointless invective that has become stale to the public
ear. The undersigned have had a duty fc) perform, a task they were
commissioned to accomplish, and they are prepared to show they have
been faithful to their trust.
Pursuant to the law under which the undersigned hold their appoint-
ments, they published at large proposals for building a State Prison ; it
will not be denied that ample time, ample information and due publicity
were given : that competition was invited, and the undersigned have only
to say that after an impartial consideration of all the proposals submitted
to them ; the contract was awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.
And now, sir, the undersigned respectfully submit the contract which
they have made, to the candid consideration of the Legislature : if in their
official capacity they had bound the State to pay exorbitant prices, or
even higher than the current prices of the country, if they had violated
any law, or abused the extraordinary powers conferred upon them, they
might approach the representatives of the people with diffidence and
doubt ; but the contract wears an open face, it is composed of figures and
facts ; it is susceptible of measure, it has length, and breadth, and depth
convertible into cubic yards ; and what it ought to cost is susceptible of
exact calculation. It is by measurement that the work is let, and the
accompanying papers will show that measure by measure in comparison,
the Prison will be built cheaper than like work is being or has been
done in any part of the State ; it may be that the undersigned are at
fault in requiring the Prison to be completed within the period of one
year, but they see no reason to doubt that the magnitude of the plan will
give rise to a structure not more than commensurate with the prospective
wants of the State. Older States have larger population, but the number
of convicts is increasing in a fearful ratio and will soon outnumber those
in many of the States that have prisons of superior dimensions.
Even were it now practicable, the undersigned would not recommend
a remodelling of the plan with a view to its contraction, but it is under-
stood that the contractors will be content to build within one year only
the most essential portions, proceeding afterwards from time to time, or
from year to year, according to the public wants, and with a due regard
to the means of the State. ^
All of which is respectfully submitted.
Superintendent Public Buildings.