Folsom's 93

The Lives and Crimes of Folsom Prison's Executed Men

9 thoughts on “Contribute

  1. April:

    Can you tell me if the name John Craig is on the list of 93? If so, do you have any information or pictures? I may have some history on him, if it is the same person.

    Thanks

    Bob

    • Hi, Bob.

      Yes, John Craig was the third man to be executed at Folsom. He was an ex-police officer who shot his wife and her parents. I will email you back a photograph and some of the information that I have on him.

      Thanks,
      April

  2. Hello April,

    Did you have access to Folsom’s original book on executions when your were researching for your book?

    My wife’s uncle was a former Warden at Folsom and he one showed us a big bound book of Folsom’s early executions. The book was obviously produced by Folsom and kept information on each individual that was executed in the earliest days. I remember seeing that each man who was executed had all their information recorded including whether or not they spoke english, the number of days from the time that they were arrested to the time they were executed etc.

    Best Wishes,

    Michael Gibbons

    • Hi, Michael, thanks for contacting me. Yes, I did get to see the book–or at least a copy of it. However, I wasn’t able to look at it in close detail, so hopefully, next time I’m out there, I’ll get that chance. I think it’s fantastic that they not only documented these executions, but that they’ve preserved the book. Not many state institutions and prisons kept and preserved these types of documents.

  3. Hello April,

    My wife’s uncle was the warden during the late 1960’s through the mid 1970’s. I’m going to inquire what ever happened to that book (which did not look like a duplicate). Each page of the book (which may have been taller than 14 inches) was reserved for each executed inmate. Each page had their photo and a page of information listed for each individual. Your description of the information sounds similar but not necessarily the exact book that I saw. I remember noting how many of the sentenced men were immigrants that did not speak a word of English and the time from arrest to conviction, to appeals to the ultimate execution were often only a few months. Sue’s uncle used to call the book “Folsom’s Hanging book”. I do know that both my wife’s uncle and his son were Warden’s in the California prison system. I will see if I can find out who currently has the book or if anyone knows anymore.

    Very interesting book topic! I will be ordering the book from Amazon this week.

    Thank you for getting back with me

    Mike Gibbons

    • I take it your wife’s uncle was Warden Craven? I’m sure he had some pretty amazing stories to tell. From what I understand, a copy was made of the execution book–it might have been done by Jim Brown of the Folsom Prison Museum. I remember looking though it when I was there last–and it was about 14″ tall.
      About a third of the 93 executions were of minorities, and I truly believe several of them were innocent, or did not receive a fair trial. For some, even the court-appointed interpreter offered little help. It would not surprise me if there were a few who had no idea what was going on because of the language barrier; they didn’t stand a chance.

      Thank you for ordering my book! I hope you enjoy it–I’d love to hear what you think.

  4. April,

    My wife’s uncle was J.B Gunn (Jake). I know that the official archives list Warden Craven as the Folsom Warden in the late 1960’s but I have a few articles showing that Jake was the “Acting Warden” for at least 2 if not 3 years before taking over the full position in the early 1970’s. Jake was the Warden when Manson, Sonny Barger (Hells Angels) and I believe Sirhan Sirhan were transferred to Folsom. Some of those stories are truly amazing. Jake was the Assistant Warden at Folsom when Johnny Cash came to the prison.

    I couldn’t agree more about your thoughts concerning the convicts who were hanged at Folsom. Many of the immigrants who were found guilty of crimes, had no chance once they were arrested. I have my doubts whether the majority of those hung ever had “court- appointed interpreters especially in the earliest days of the hangings.

    Some where in my possessions I have a very early set of keys for Folsom which Jake left to me upon his passing.

    I also have an early manuscript that was done on the History of Folsom. If I can find the location of the “Folsom Hanging Book” or the history of Folsom, I will let you know.

    Mike

    • Thanks, Mike, that would be great! One of the guards gave me a copy of a manuscript chronicling the history of Folsom up until 1978, I believe. It’s full of some fascinating information. It’s such an incredible prison–so much history!

    • Hello, I was teaching my son About his great grandpa Jake Gunn and stumbled across this. My ex husband Jason Gunn was Jake’s grandson and inherited a lot of his Folsom Prison books. Jake was a great man and absolutely loved his family and had great stories!!!! We always loved going to visit him and his wife Jenny!!!

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