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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.”

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IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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