Out of sight, out of mind

Just after Marin County planners raised the roof on their new 110,000-square-foot prison in this affluent San Francisco suburban area, they hid it under a plush layer of grass. Nearby, citizens mill about the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Civic Center. But below more than 200 prisoners carry out sentences in 6-by-12-foot cells in a jail dug 60 feet into the earth. When they need to face a judge or jury, guards walk them through an underground tunnel to the courthouse. As far as sunlight goes, they get a glimpse while eating, thanks to the cafeteria’s domed skylight. And there is no unsightly prison to tarnish the Wright structure, a prospect that had concerned local preservationists. How do conditions compare with a notorious, former island prison nearby? Undersheriff Bob Doyle insists the jail is certainly more humane–“There’s no comparison to Alcatraz.” It’s surely less conspicuous. As Doyle says: “You can drive right by it and not even know it’s there.”


What's going to happen next as the headlines grow crazier and more disconcerting by the day. But we do know the job of an independent, unrelenting press is more important than ever—and the ongoing commitment of MoJo readers to fight for a democracy where facts matter and all can participate is absolutely vital.

If you feel the urgency deep in your bones like we do, please consider signing up as a monthly donor during our fall pledge drive to support Mother Jones' fair and fearless reporting for the long haul (or make a one-time gift if that works better for you). The headlines may fade, but the need to investigate the powerful never will.