The San Quentin State Prison was a State Penitentiary that was located in San Quentin, California, on the coast of San Francisco Bay, north of San Francisco. Opened in July 1852, it is the oldest prison in the state, and has the largest death row in the United States.
In 1931, the Prohibition gangster, Irving Thomas "Kid" Tannen, was arrested in Hill Valley, California by Danny Parker of the Hill Valley Police Department. Artie McFly, Kid Tannen's accountant, gave testimony to the district attorney about Tannen's business affairs. This, coupled with the accounting books given to the police by Kid Tannen's girlfriend, Trixie Trotter, caused Tannen to be arrested. He was found guilty of tax evasion, as he didn't report the income earned by the Hill Valley speakeasy and the El Kid speakeasy.
After his arrest, Kid Tannen was moved to San Quentin State Prison, where he served a sentence of life imprisonment. Kid Tannen broke out of prison several times. In 1936, after escaping from prison, Kid Tannen made love to a woman named Myra Benson. Myra gave birth to a child, Biff Tannen.
On December 6, 1936, Kid Tannen had once again escaped from prison. Going by the name Thomas Tannen, he married Myra Benson, simply for the purpose of making it seem like Biff wasn't born out of wedlock. The two parted ways immediately after the wedding. Since neither parent wanted him, Tannen's mother, Gertrude Tannen, took custody of Biff. Before he left his son, he gave Gertrude a forged birth certificate that stated that Biff was born in 1937.
Some time after the wedding, Kid Tannen was captured and placed behind bars again. In 1937, he broke out again for a period of three hours. Emmett Brown speculated that this was the time of Biff's conception, due to the fact that he did not know Biff's birth certificate was fraudulent.
At some point prior to 1986, Kid fell in love with the woman who burned down his original speakeasy, Edna Strickland, and the two got married. By 1986, Kid Tannen had been released from San Quentin State Prison, and had seemingly given up his criminal acts. He had a more upbeat attitude and was present in his son's life, presumably as a result of Edna's ethical influence.
- "Inside Death Row", San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Fimrite - November 20, 2005 (see 'External links' below)