Top 10 Most Famous Prisoners Held At Folsom State Prison

Welcome to Folsom State Prison, a fortress of stone and steel that echoes with the haunting tales of the incarcerated, today we delve into the depths of Folsom and explore the 10 Most Famous Prisoners held within its walls.

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10 – Charles Manson

Leading a cult that committed one of the most infamous series of murders in American history, Charles Manson masterminded a group known as the Manson Family.

In 1969, he orchestrated a series of brutal killings, including that of actress Sharon Tate, in an attempt to incite a race war which he called “Helter Skelter.”

Manson’s ability to manipulate his followers, primarily young and impressionable individuals, showcased the sinister charisma that fuelled his doomsday cult’s violence.

Arrested in 1971, Manson and several of his followers were convicted of murder and conspiracy.

Manson, in particular, received a life sentence, never directly committing the crimes but was held responsible for orchestrating them regardless.

Manson died in a California prison on the 19th November 2017, yet his notoriety endures with many media outlets covering his death and multiple documentaries being made about his life.

9 – Rick James

Multifaceted musical force James, epitomized the funk and soul sounds of the 1970s and 1980s, with hits like “Super Freak” and “Give It to Me Baby”.

James’ life was marred by struggles with substance abuse and legal issues and, in 1993, he was convicted of assault, drug charges, and weapons charges, later serving time in prison at Folson.

Convicted of two separate instances of kidnapping and assaulting two different women while under the influence of crack cocaine, he received a five-year sentence and was released on parole in 1996, serving just three years.

8 – Timothy Leary

A psychologist and advocate for psychedelic substances, he popularized the phrase “turn on, tune in, drop out”, Leary was a prominent figure of the counterculture movement in the 1960s.

Leary conducted controversial experiments with psilocybin and LSD, believing in their therapeutic and consciousness-expanding potential.

His advocacy for the use of psychedelics drew both admiration and criticism, contributing to the era’s cultural shifts.

Legal troubles marred his later years and he was arrested for drug-related charges, spending time in prison but remaining an influential figure.

Timothy Leary passed away in 1996, leaving behind a complex and controversial legacy.

7 – Danny Trejo

Known for his tough-guy roles and distinctive appearance, Danny Trejo is a Mexican-American actor and Hollywood icon.

Before his acting career took off, Trejo faced a tumultuous past involving drugs and crime, spending time in prison.

Often cast as the antagonist due to his rugged appearance. Trejo gained widespread recognition for his roles in “Desperado,” “Machete,” and “Heat.”

These days, he is renowned for his humility and dedication to community service, helping individuals overcome addiction and supporting at-risk youth.

6 – Edmund Kemper

American serial killer Kemper perpetrated a series of gruesome murders in the 1960s and 1970s.

Standing at 6 feet 9 inches, Kemper earned the chilling moniker “The Co-Ed Killer” and his victims included several young women, as well as his own mother and her friend.

Kemper’s disturbing actions, driven by a complex mix of psychological factors, shocked the nation.

What sets Kemper apart is his high level of intelligence, which allowed him to manipulate and outsmart law enforcement for a period of time before he was caught.

After his capture in 1973, Kemper willingly provided detailed confessions, offering insight into his dark motivations.

Sentenced to life in prison, Kemper later became a subject of fascination for those interested in criminal psychology.

5 – Sonny Barger

This legendary figure in the world of motorcycle clubs was a founding member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

Barger played a pivotal role in shaping the outlaw image associated with motorcycle gangs and his charismatic leadership and influence within the Hells Angels made him a central figure in the biker subculture.

Despite his association with a controversial lifestyle, Barger’s impact extends beyond the outlaw persona, as he has been involved in various advocacy efforts and has shared insights into the intricacies of motorcycle club culture.

Becoming both a feared and respected figure in the motorcycle world, Barger gained notoriety through his outspokenness, memoirs, and appearances in documentaries.

4 – Erik Menendez

Erik Menendez, born in 1970, alongside his brother Lyle, became infamous for the shocking murders of their wealthy parents, Jose and Kitty Menendez, in 1989.

The high-profile trial that followed captivated the nation as details of abuse, greed, and a troubled family dynamic emerged.

The brothers, initially portraying themselves as victims of abuse seeking sympathy, were convicted of first-degree murder in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

3 – Eldridge Cleaver

A prominent figure in the Black Panther Party and author of “Soul on Ice,” Eldridge Cleaver faced imprisonment for his involvement in criminal activities during the 1960s.

Cleaver was convicted of assault with intent to murder and served time in Folson prison where he embraced radical ideologies and became a vocal advocate for prisoner rights.

His association with the Black Panther Party led to further legal troubles and in 1968, Cleaver was involved in a shootout with police, resulting in multiple charges.

To avoid a potentially lengthy sentence, he fled the United States and lived in exile before returning in 1975 and, after a series of legal battles, served time for parole violations.

Cleaver’s experiences in prison and subsequent political evolution are believed to have helped bring about the turbulent era of civil rights activism and social change in the US.

2 – Edward Bunker

A prolific writer and actor, Bunker had a tumultuous early life marked by criminal activities that led to multiple prison stints.

In his youth, he became involved in armed robbery and served time in various penal institutions, including San Quentin and Folson.

While incarcerated, Bunker focused on self-improvement, educating himself and honing his writing skills with his breakout novel, “No Beast So Fierce,” drawing from his own experiences and garnering critical acclaim.

Bunker’s literary success allowed him to transition from a life of crime to one of creativity and storytelling.

1 – Glen Stewart Godwin

Descending into a world of crime that ultimately led him to Folson State Prison, Glen Stewart Godwin’s criminal history includes drug trafficking and even a heinous murder.

In 1987, he brutally killed a fellow inmate inside the Prison and, Subsequently, Godwin managed a daring escape from Folson, eluding authorities for years.

Cutting a hole through fence wire and escaping into a storm drain that emptied into the American River, Godwin dropped through a manhole and crawled 750 feet through the pitch-black drain.

He used a boat to float down the river, following white arrows as directions that had been left by his accomplice, suspected to be his wife or former cell-mate.

During his time on the run, he featured on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list and was eventually recaptured in Mexico in 1996, facing extradition and fighting his return to the US.

He is still on the run to this day, and is wanted for Murder, Prison Escape and unlawful flight to avoid confinement, the reward is currently $20,000.

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