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Per his interview with Prison Legal News, Danny Trejo was first sentenced to a work camp in 1959, followed by prison in 1962 and a second term in 1965. In total, according to Trejo, he “was in San Quentin, Folsom, Soledad, Vacaville, Susanville, Sierra.” His last stint came to be after he sold “four ounces of pure sugar to a federal agent.” In a 2020 feature in Texas Monthly, Trejo remembered his time at the notorious San Quentin State Prison, the only prison in California with a death row. “When you pull up to San Quentin, you see two lights up on top of the North Block,” he told journalist Cat Cardenas. “You see a red light and a green light. If the red light is on, that means they’re killing someone. That’s the first thing you see, so you know this is a death house — people come in here and don’t come out.” 

Trejo feared he was headed for death row in 1968 when he ended up in solitary confinement — “the hole” — after he hit a guard in the head with a rock during a prison riot at Soledad State Prison. He entertained himself by acting out scenes from his favorite movies, including “The Wizard of Oz,” and started praying to God. He remembered his time there in his interview with Prison Legal News, telling journalist Paul Wright, “When I was in the hole I kind of dedicated my life to helping other people.”

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