San Quentin Prison releases parolees every morning at the San Rafael Bus Depot. The non-violent criminals get released on Saturday and Sunday at 8:00am and 10:00am. As I sit in my vehicle, the unmarked prison van with darkened windows pulls up and lets out about a dozen freedom-loving cons. In an instant they all scramble out in their gray sweat suits to the buses or to one of the waiting cabs. Two older black dudes approach mine. The ‘Queen’, as I want to call him, wants to negotiate a flat fee to downtown San Francisco. A fare on the meter runs about $70 plus toll but I figure I’ll say $50 total since I need the gig. The Queen pays me first then enters my cab but soon demands a stop for a sandwich. I deal with it. After the detour at Subway we’re off south down Highway 101.
Each man has been in San Quentin for about 80 days. It was crowded, they say. The Department of Corrections gives each release $1.10 for each day they’re in the joint. They're required to buy those gray sweats. With the payment of this cab fare they can’t have much money left for liquor, which is what the Queen is talking about purchasing next. I get the sense the other dude doesn’t want to go back in. He wants me to drop him at the Goodwill Store at Mission and Van Ness to buy himself some new (used) clothes. At least one of them has the good sense to blend in. So that’s where I drop them both. I bid them well. They say recidivism rates for men in the U.S. are at about 68%. Odds are I may have the Queen back in my cab after his next release. I provided them transportation and no judgment. It’s not up to me to do anything else.