It was rumoured that Ed Kemper had spent some time at Folsom State Prison at the beginning of his incarceration, in 1973-1974. In this excerpt from his May 1979 parole hearing (the first one he accepted to attend since he had been imprisoned), Kemper sheds light on why he didn’t get to go to Folsom Prison and how it was decided by doctors that he would stay at the California Medical Facility (CMF) in Vacaville, where he has been living since November 1973.
INMATE KEMPER: When I came into CDC on November 9th, 1973, I was classified Category A, “emergency psychotic” and a high violence potential, maximum custody, without having seen anybody. There was no psychiatric evaluation at all.
I was taken immediately from Receiving after being processed. I was taken to psychiatric isolation in S Wing on the third floor. I stayed there for five weeks. During that time, I had a tremendous difficulty in dealing with the depressions I was feeling from being taken from a very high-profile situation in jail — the court, the press, the flashbulbs, the lawyers — to a total isolation where I didn’t talk to anybody unless I was being fed or medicated – and then very briefly. I had trouble accepting and getting along with that. I felt very suicidal at that time – because it was very hard on me. And I saw — I didn’t know what prison was like; I didn’t know that I didn’t have that going for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to live. And at that time, I was also on suicidal watch.
After – well, excuse me, not during the first the five-week period.
I left the — after the five-week period, the staff determined that I could be returned and ordered to the Reception Center for processing. I stayed there two weeks behind the screen in T Wing; it’s a secure housing. After two weeks of processing, it was determined by — on paper, — that I would either be placed in California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo or this mainline setting [CMF].
Dr. Alvin Groupe, capital G-r-u- — G-r-o-u-p-e, the Chief Psychiatrist for In-patient Services, which included Seguin Unit and S Wing, determined that he would take me back into the CMF Program under the Seguin Unit program, working toward the mainline.
When I returned to the Seguin Unit, I was put in a secure housing cell, six days later taken to screening, and I was recommended to be taken to Folsom — to the Adjustment Center in Folsom Prison, with an alternate of San Quentin Adjustment Center.
I had talked to no one, psychiatrically, counselling or otherwise during that six-day wait. I have a feeling that it would have been the same day if I had got there a day earlier.
I was returned to S-3, which is isolation. The day after that I was taken down to W Wing, “the hole”, the jail house to await transfer. During that wait, I attempted suicide.
It had been dismissed by several psychiatric staff as a show. I didn’t know what I was showing for, because I hadn’t been through the system before. I don’t know that they didn’t want me to go ahead and kill myself anyway — to save money.
I spent almost all of my canteen ducats buying a very small piece of metal —
PRESIDING MEMBER RUSHEN: Okay. You tried to commit suicide. Then what happened?
INMATE KEMPER: I tried to commit suicide with drugs and cut. I was returned to isolation, not the hospital. I was comatose for three days.
When I woke up, I was taken to the floor lieutenant’s desk, Lieutenant Steele’s court, the lieutenant’s court to stand a hearing on a CDC 115 for self-mutilation. And it’s the only rules violation report that’s ever been filed on me –
PRESIDING MEMBER RUSHEN: Recovered then. Now, is there anything else?
INMATE KEMPER: We passed over it; we didn’t really cover it.
The man found me guilty. I was kept there for five more weeks. At the end of that time, it was determined that the CFR, Sacramento did not want me leaving the California Medical Facility, and I was told by Dr. Groupe that I was going to go down to W-1 and live there. I was going to be there for a long, long time. And I was upset because I was going to be transferred [to Folsom].
I went to W-1. I sat down there for two months. The program administrator, Mr. Vineyard, who is now a representative on your Board – – he came down to me and we made a therapy contract, unofficially. He didn’t like me living down there where I lived in a cell for 23 hours a day, and exercised in a cage for one hour a day — as being my housing and treatment. And I promised him that I would not act up in a violent way; I would not get anybody up there in any trouble for taking a chance with me, because at that time nobody was willing to take a chance with me — at all. And I don’t blame them; there was no real grounds to do that — according to what was observable in the records in my past history.
Sources: May 1st, 1979 Ed Kemper parole hearing / Photo @Joey Tranchina