Warden Clinton Truman Duffy

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A Biography by Charles B. White, a lifelong friend 

  "Clinton T. Duffy was born in the town of San Quentin on August 4, l898. Prior to that, in l894, his father came to San Quentin Prison as a guard, now known as a Correctional Officer. He later became steward at the institution.

  Clint went through San Quentin Grammar School and San Rafael High School. While in San Quentin Grammar School he fell in love with Gladys Carpenter, the daughter of Officer John H. Carpenter, who later became Captain.

  Clint and Gladys carried on this courtship through Grammar School and High School and they finally married in December of 1921.

  Clint served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the first World War. After his discharge from the Marines he worked for the Northwestern Pacific Railroad and later for a construction company. He also became a Notary Public.

  One day, in l929, Clint had occasion to go to the Warden's Office at San Quentin Prison to notarize a document. While there for this purpose he overheard Warden James B. Holohan telling his secretary, Rivera Smith, that he needed an office assistant. Clint immediately commented to the Warden, "How about giving me the job?". The Warden stated, "All right, if you want it you've got it". Clint did a real good job for Warden Holohan, relieving him of much detail and responsible work.

  In 1935 Warden Holohan was almost killed in a prison break. Prisoners, who had secured guns, converged on the Warden's home while he and the Prison Board were having lunch. They beat Warden Holohan into unconsciousness and kidnapped the Board Members. Holding the Board as hostages they were permitted to drive through the prison gates.

  Soon after that Warden Holohan retired and was replaced by Court Smith who was then the Warden at Folsom Prison.

  After Smith's appointment, Clint Duffy was transferred from the Warden's office and moved to the Parole Board, first as historian and record keeper and later as an assistant to Mark Noon, Secretary of the Board of Prison Directors.

  During Court Smith's Wardenship things at San Quentin did not improve and a large investigation was ordered. Smith was dismissed.

  Clint Duffy was called before the Board of Prison Directors and he was told they had not agreed on a new warden as yet and in as much as he knew more about the prison than anyone available at the time, they asked him to assume the Wardenship for 30 days while they further searched for someone.

  During this 30 day interim, while Acting Warden, Clint did such an outstanding job the Board of Directors gave him a regular appointment for a four year term.

  In the 30 days of Acting Warden he abolished all forms of corporal punishment and eliminated the 18" circle in which men had been required to stand for hours and who were beaten with a rubber hose if they stepped out of the circle. He also abolished the dungeon.

  He fired those who had beaten up the prisoners and who had a hand in dealing out corporal punishment.

  After his four year appointment he immediately started an educational program with outside teachers and instructors from Marin College and the San Rafael High School District, instead of using inmates as instructors.

  He was the first Warden to introduce the Alcoholics Anonymous Program into a prison in the United States.

  In 1943 some church group in San Francisco, whom I do not remember, selected Clint Duffy as the Man Of The Year and a dinner was held in his honor.

  Clint is a renowned Warden and is know nationally and internationally.

  After serving as Warden at San Quentin Prison for 11 years he was appointed to membership on the Adult Authority where he served for 13 years.

  After retiring from the Adult Authority some two years ago he became active in helping those with severe alcoholic problems.

  He is now National Advisor with the 7 Step Foundation.

  As previously stated, Gladys Duffy (nee' Gladys Carpenter) came to San Quentin when but a tiny girl. She and Clint grew up together and she has been a solid companion with Clint in his career.

  Her interest in prisoners, underprivileged people, etc., has been as great as Clint's. She was affectionately known as "Mom" Duffy by the inmates and many of them can thank her for her words of wisdom and her interest in them and her encouragement in instilling in them that they can and will make good".

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Last Revision March 2001