Mule Creek State Prison (MCSP) is a penitentiary for men, located in Ione, Amador County California. The facility opened in 1987 and was designed to house about 1,700 inmates, but currently houses over 3,500, placing it at over 180% capacity. MCSP has been one of the most chronically overpopulated penitentiaries in the state since at least the early 2000’s. All cell blocks house overflow inmates who sleep in bunk beds in areas that were designed for common use, such as day rooms and gymnasiums. In 2005, MCSP became the only state prison in California that exclusively houses sensitive needs (protective custody) inmates. Protective custody inmates (also referred to as PC) are segregated from mainline (general population) for their own safety, because they are at risk of being targeted for violence. These inmates are usually sex offenders or ex gang members (drop outs) who “snitched” (or “debriefed” in DOC terms) former police officers or corrections officers, inmates with youthful or feminine appearances, or inmates who have drug or gambling debts that they can’t or won’t pay. They may also include inmates who are considered “high profile” because of their crime.
A study that was published in 2007 found that male sex offenders make up 15% of California’s prison population, but accounted for nearly 30% of offenders who were murdered while in custody. This combined with an overwhelming amount of assaults led to a designated protective custody prison.
Some of California’s most high-profile murderers are currently held at MCSP, including:
Patrick Kearney - Known as one of several “Freeway Killers”, Kearney is considered one of the most prolific serial killers in American history, with a suspected 43 victims throughout the 1970’s. Kearney targeted young men that he cruised at gay bars or picked up while hitchhiking. His victims tended to be larger than him in stature, (Kearney was 5’5 and described as “slight”) so his method was to travel to a secluded area with his victim under the guise of privacy for a sexual encounter, and would then shoot them in the head, and sexually assault the body.
Andrew Luster - The great grandson and heir of Max Factor, founder of the Max Factor cosmetics line, Luster drugged three separate women with GHB and sexually assaulted them on video camera. One of his victims went to the police, who found the tapes and charged him. Luster posted $1million bail, but failed to appear in court and was sentenced to 124 years in prison in absentia. Six months later, Luster was captured by none other than Duane “The Dog” Chapman in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Herbert Mullin - Mullin killed 13 people in the 1970’s, and claimed that he heard voices that told him he had to commit human sacrifice to save California from earthquakes. His first murder occurred in 1972, when Mullin killed a hitchhiker that he claimed was Jonah from the Bible, who told him to “kill me so that others will be saved.” When he was finally caught, he told police that the reason there had not been any recent earthquakes was due to his acts. Despite the obvious evidence pointing towards mental illness, Mullin was charged with first and second-degree murder. He pled guilty and was sentenced to life, and will be eligible for parole in 2021, at the age of 74.
“Tex” Watson - Of the Manson family, Watson was convicted of seven counts of first degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder, for his part in the Tate and LaBianca murders. Watson has been denied parole 15 times since 1976.
John Frazier - Known as “The Killer Prophet”, Frazier was sentenced to death in 1970 for murdering five people while in a delusional state. Frazier believed that he heard the voice of God instructing him to commit the murders. When he arrived in court on the first day of his trial, Frazier had completely shaved one half of his head. Frazier hung himself to death in his cell at MCSP in 2009.