To Life: Documents and Data on Prison and Parole

 (Courtesy of Marvin Mutch)

Chapter 4 of "The Trials of Marvin Mutch" podcast series covers Mutch's first 20 years in prison, beginning in 1975, when he was 19 years old.

Mutch was given an indeterminate sentence: seven years to life. The average imprisonment for a first-degree murder conviction was 10 years, eight months.

But by the early 1980s, when Mutch was first eligible for parole, California and the rest of the country's approach to criminal justice was changing.

Huge Increase Prison Population

California's state prison inmate population grew by well over 500 percent between 1980 and 2000. The state opened 20 new prisons over that time period.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

President Ronald Reagan took the "tough-on-crime" approach from California to a national stage.

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This graphic from the Public Policy Institute of California shows another view of the state's prison population over time, including decreases in recent years.

Read the full report here. (Public Policy Institute of California)

According to the most recent data available, Latino and African-American men make up a large majority of state prison inmates.

Read the full report here. (Public Policy Institute of California)

Story for Parole Board

Few lifers were granted parole in the 1980s and '90s, and Mutch says he was convinced he'd never be seriously considered for release until he took responsibility for the murder of Cassie Riley. Read a synopsis of the story he told the parole board, on several occasions, in the parole hearing transcript excerpt below.

Advocacy Inside

Mutch turned his energy toward advocating for other inmates, and co-created the Men's Advisory Council at San Quentin State Prison. Read what correctional officers and prison administrators wrote about Mutch below.


Mutch also helped start a program called "Brother's Keepers" after his friend Robert Dubner's suicide.

The report below, filed as part of a federal civil case involving state prison conditions, examines suicides throughout the state prison system in 2013.

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