Proposition 57 passed … what now?

By Kevin D. Sawyer Mike Romano, director of the Three Strikes Project at Stanford Law School, shared a few thoughts on ballot initiative Proposition 57 before the election. Now that it has passed, many inmates in California are asking what to do next. Romano did not provide specific details on how the law will be […]

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California votes to speed up executions

While state lawmakers complete approval of a one-drug execution method, Californians voted not only to keep the death penalty on the books, but approved speeding up executions by limiting the appeals process. Californians rejected Proposition 62, which would have repealed the death penalty for persons found guilty of murder with special circumstances and replaced it […]

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December 2016 News Briefs

Arizona — After the 2012 decision barring mandatory sentences of life without parole for offenders who were juveniles when they committed their crimes—and making the law retroactive—the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the state courts to review the sentences in several cases, SCOTUSblog reports. Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained that the sentencing judges in these cases did […]

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‘Outrage’ laws can work out badly

At the height of prison reform, Californians may be repeating the mistakes that led to prison overcrowding and excessive punishments in the first place. In the wake of a rise in sexual assaults across California, several state bills passed into law this November will stiffen punishments against a particular category of “offenders.” In the California […]

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Inmates earn neuroscience degree

By Salvador Solorio Cornell University instructors are now teaching neuroscience at New York’s maximum-security Auburn Correctional Facility. Prisoners are enrolled in Cornell Prison Education Project (CPEP), and those that graduate will receive an associate’s degree from Cayuga Community College reported Atlantic Magazine. Students attending the introductory neuroscience class are not seasoned scholars; they are convicted […]

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After years locked in a SHU, it’s still a struggle

By John Lam Debrief, parole or die were the only ways an inmate placed in California’s supermax facilities for gang validation could come out. It has changed, thanks to a class-action lawsuit. “I was placed in the SHU (Security Housing Unit) based on the words of a confidential informant,” said Librado Fortanel. “All they need […]

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Lawsuit lowers SHU occupancy by two- third

By Salvador Solorio Following a landmark lawsuit settlement, Security Housing Unit (SHU) occupancy has been cut by two-thirds. The lawsuit followed California prison hunger strikes in 2011 and 2013 that protested indefinite isolation in SHU facilities, reported Alex Emslie of KQED news. Prisoners specifically protested against indefinite SHU terms based solely on prison authorities’ suspicions […]

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Gov. Brown names 9 to CDCR positions

Gov. Jerry Brown announced his latest appointments to CDCR offices, according to the Imperial Valley News. Kelly Santoro has been appointed warden at North Kern State Prison. She had been acting warden since 2015. Prior experience includes: chief deputy warden at Wasco Prison, associate warden at Corcoran, facility captain, correctional counselor and correctional officer. Albert […]

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North Block project teaches construction skills

By Juan Haines Prisoners on a San Quentin work crew say they are being “rehabilitated, one building at a time” by learning state-of-the-art techniques useful in today’s construction industry. Their latest project is an addition to an existing building, North Block. The addition was completed in mid-September and is scheduled to open as a medical […]

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Comedian W. Kamau Bell has a lot to say

By Rahsaan Thomas W. Kamau Bell sat down for a candid interview revealing his thoughts on Trump, the value of taking East Asian Studies in college and the connection between mass incarceration and racism. Bell sat down for the interview on Feb. 27 after walking into the San Quentin Catholic Chapel with his entourage, including […]

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Gov. Brown signs tougher bills on sexual assault

By Forrest Lee Jones After much controversy over the sexual assault of a female student named Emily Doe at Stanford University by not her classmate, Brock Turner, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed two bills to increase the punishment for such offenses, reports Jazmine Ulloa of the Los Angeles Times. Assembly Bills 701 and 2888 were […]

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Prop. 57 opens a door for juvenile offenders

By John Lam With the passage of Proposition 57, Kid CAT will strive to build upon the positive changes in the law and community attitudes and rehabilitation initiatives which are giving juvenile offenders hope for freedom in the future. “The passage of Proposition 57 on Nov. 8 represented a big step toward a more restorative […]

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Finding roots of criminal thinking

Twenty-seven San Quentin prisoners have graduated from a 26-week program designed to help them address the root causes of criminal thinking, childhood trauma and violent behavior. “Through The First Step curriculum, I learned where my criminal identity came from. I also learned how to deal with my emotions,” said Toalepai Falao, a November graduate of […]

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L.A. County bans solitary for juveniles and…

By Harry C. Goodall Jr. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to permanently ban solitary confinement for juveniles. According to a report on KPCC radio, the assessment was based upon the psychological damage that can result from solitary confinement, which is a trigger for high recidivism. After hearing the testimony of a […]

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Is solitary confinement for juveniles on the way out in California?

By John Lam The use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities in the state of California may be coming to an end. Recent reforms of practices in juvenile detention facilities represent a growing consensus that the use of solitary confinement is harmful for children, said California Democratic State Sen. Mark Leno, who is sponsoring a […]

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…campaign seeks to extend the ban

By David Le A campaign is underway to end solitary confinement for youth in juvenile and adult facilities across the United States. The campaign was launched in April by a number of national groups, including the Center for Children’s Law and Policy. The new partnership is called Stop Solitary for Kids. Leading the campaign is […]

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Who gets the death penalty? It mostly depends on who the prosecutor is

By Juan Haines A small number of prosecutors across the country are vigorously pursuing death sentences and, according to a new study, have done so without regard for fairness and accuracy. “These prosecutors are evidence that the application of the death penalty is — and always has been — less about the circumstances of the […]

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Tasty graduation for the first class of SQ chefs

By Wayne Boatwright The inaugural graduating class of “The Quentin Cooks” prepared a five-course feast as a worthy finish to the new Culinary Arts Program, a 12-week course on basic culinary knowledge and skills. The course provides practical training from instructors with real-world experience and the chance to earn a ServSafe certification, which is required […]

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Inmate vets pitch in again to help Marines’ Toys for Tots

By John Tidwell San Quentin inmates have collected $688 that will help make Christmas merrier for underprivileged children. For 28 years San Quentin has participated in the Toys for Tots giveaway program sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps with help from the Veterans Group of San Quentin (VGSQ) formerly known as Vietnam Veterans of San […]

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New SQ dramas tackle issues of social justice

By Davontae Pariani A prison chapel became an effective platform for incarcerated men to address social justice issues. The Oct. 21 performances, called Parallel Plays, were inspired by themes such as power, oppression, choice, forgiveness, isolation and hope found in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It and The Tempest, as well as in their own […]

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A chorus of praise for 11 addiction graduates

By Marcus Henderson A United States congressman was one of three dignitaries to venture inside San Quentin to recognize 11 inmates for turning their lives around and being certified to teach their fellow inmates how to overcome substance abuse. “This was inspirational,” said Mark DeSaulnier, who represents California’s 11th District, at the 2016 graduation of […]

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Earth’s main renewable resource? It’s people

By Emile DeWeaver Forty people, damp from rain, gathered in San Quentin’s Protestant Chapel to celebrate what several environmentalists there called the world’s most important natural resource: people. “If you think solar and wind power are the answers to our problems, you’re wrong,” said co-founder Sam Hearnes during his talk about the future of renewable […]

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There’s sure a whole lot of talent at San Quentin

By Marcus Henderson In reality TV show fashion, San Quentin residents demonstrated they “got talent,” at the Third Annual Talent and Karaoke event, sponsored by the San Quentin Music Program. As the Lower Yard filled, about 150 people crowded around a makeshift stage to be treated to ’80s-style music by former Club Nouveau member, now […]

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Why these prisons are calm: Inmates are respected

By Juan Haines The key to the low violence levels in Sweden’s high-security Kumla prison is how prisoners are treated, its warden told Prison Yoga Project founder James Fox. One of the unique characteristics of Kumla is its Retreat Center. Nine prisoners at a time attend 10-day silent retreats. The prison schedules 20 retreats throughout […]

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Exploring the rabbit hole that led them to violence

On a hazy mid-April weekend, 15 men gathered in an old prison yard bungalow at San Quentin to think about why they killed—why they robbed—why they ended up here. Most of them are serving life sentences, locked up for decades. They came to this writing workshop, called The Rabbit Hole, to explain who they were […]

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Una Navidad de nostalgia y felicidad

Por Marco Villa La Navidad es una de las fechas más anheladas del año, donde las familias se reúnen para convivir  y celebrar el nacimiento del niño Dios. A pesar que cada país tiene sus propias costumbres y tradiciones para celebrar la Navidad, todos coinciden que lo más importante es la convivencia familiar. En este […]

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Proposición 227 padres de familia con derechos en la educación

La proposición 58 fracaso en su intento de invalidar la ley del Senado 227. Este estatuto ha estado en vigor desde el año 1998. Una acción para corregir las secciones 300, 305, 306, 320. 335 y para revocar la sección 311 del código de educación relacionado a la educación del lenguaje en ingles. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S […]

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It’s harder for Black women to be understood as victims

By Marcus Henderson Black women are more likely to be criminalized for defending themselves, according to a Rewire story. “It’s really hard for people to accept Black women as victimized,” said Lenina Trinidad, an attorney who has represented abuse survivors, in an interview with Rewire. “In my experience in the criminal court system, Black women […]

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D.C. tries new program to fight crime

By John Lam The Washington D.C., City Council has taken steps to approve an innovative new program called Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR), to combat violent crimes through diversion programs that provide potential offenders with public services. “The NEAR Act would create two new D.C. government offices. The first would be the Office of Neighborhood […]

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SQ Mission: Learning to earn a living wage

By Kevin D. Sawyer In prison, education is all about public safety. Shannon Swain, Deputy Superintendent for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Office of Correctional Education (OCE) understands this well. “If someone’s going to do time, then they should learn something to better their community,” said Swain. “If someone learns a skill […]

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She helps answer the need for addiction counselors

By Emile DeWeaver Re-entry volunteer Kiki Kessler said every person she has worked with at San Quentin had addiction problems, and there was nowhere to send them. “Guys are getting out, but if they haven’t dealt with their addictions, they’ll come back,” Kessler said. In 2005, she discovered two men serving life sentences, R. Trunzo […]

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Four states lead U.S. prison population shrinkage

By Charles David Henry Prison populations have been steadily declining as a result of criminal justice strategic reforms. This spectrum of change has been most notable in several states such as New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and California. America still continues to maintain its distinction as the world leader in its use of incarceration. […]

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S.F. work group seeks alternatives to building a big new city jail

By Lee Jaspar The No New SF Jail Coalition (NNSFJC) is seeking alternatives to the construction of a new jail in San Francisco. In an effort to reduce the city’s jail population, the board of supervisors created the Work Group to Re-envision the Jail Replacement Project. The work group includes supervisors London Breed and Jane […]

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The powerful voice of Jennifer Richter

By Juan Haines Poetry has always had the ability to make me, unintentionally, think of things or someone in unexpected ways. So, when I pick up a poem, I am open to finding out what the writer is trying to say through the combination of words that have a rhythm or cadence that just sounds […]

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Dealing with opioid deaths in prison

By David Eugene Archer Sr. The Obama administration met with correctional officials in July to address the spike in overdose deaths in the nation’s jails and prisons due to opioid narcotics, reported Christopher Moraff. At this White House summit on July 17, Michael Botticelli, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, […]

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SQ’s television signal gets an upgrade

The men in blue now have a wide variety of television channels available for their viewing pleasure just in time for the holidays — and football season. After several years of complaints about the unreliable and fluctuating television signals and many meetings and proposals about upgrading to cable television, the San Quentin administration purchased new […]

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San Quentin Kings tumble under .500

By Rahsaan Thomas The Outsiders dealt the San Quentin Kings over-40 basketball team another loss, winning 96-89. “First time we beat them two in a row,” said Outsider Steve Watkins. Kings Coach Orlando Harris said, “It’s our first losing season in the four years I’ve been coaching. Even if we win our next two games, […]

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No winner in epic Intramural League basketball finals

By Rahsaan Thomas Commissioner Ishmael Freelon declared a draw in the Intramural League Basketball Championship after controversy over whether one of the games should count as a forfeit in the best of five series otherwise tied two-two. Championship Intramural games are normally played on Sunday mornings, but the coaches of both teams agreed to play game […]

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All-Madden team slips past Chosen, 33-31

By Marcus Henderson The visiting Chosen Christian Sports Ministries missed a two-point conversion attempt to fall 32-31 to San Quentin’s All-Madden flag football team on a wet and muddy field. “I was surprised and happy the administration let us play in these conditions,” said D. “Zayd” Nickolson. “It’s always like a semi-pro experience when we […]

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SQ soccer aces turn back Berkeley…again

By Eddie Herena On a late October morning, 20 young men from the surrounding Bay Area dressed in black T-shirts and black shorts, marched down into a prison for a soccer match that had been planned for months. Stepping onto San Quentin’s Field of Dreams was a new experience for all but one member of […]

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Harry “ATL” Smith out scores former pros

By Rahsaan Thomas San Quentin Warrior Harry “ATL” Smith scored 31 points against former overseas-pro basketball players to help his team survive a last second surge by Christian Sports Ministries. The Warriors won 87-84. “We could not stop ATL today. He was awesome,” said Evan Fjeld, who played professionally overseas in the NBA’s D-League and […]

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White House award to Jody Lewen

By Marcus Henderson As students with makeshift backpacks and see-through plastic folders hustle in and out of an education building, teachers greet their students by name. It is a college campus at San Quentin, where the Prison University Project works to transform inmates from convicts to college students. President Barack Obama recently handed PUP Executive […]

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Golden State Warriors come back to the Lower Yard

By Rahsaan Thomas A parade of Golden State Warriors, including Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, made their fifth annual visit to San Quentin State Prison for fellowship, fun and basketball. Golden State General Manager Bob Myers, Assistant GM Kirk Lacob, and Assistant Coach Willie Green were also among those who marched down the hill leading […]

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SQ Death Row holds poetry slam

By Juan Haines A poetry slam helped 10 condemned men talk about the challenges they face living on San Quentin’s Death Row. They presented poems to prison administrators and custody staff on Sept. 7 and 14. There is a stereotype that “we have no redeeming qualities,” said Clifton Perry, 46. “Although a jury thought this, […]

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‘Artistic talented artists to a packed house

By John Lam Nineteen San Quentin men shared stories, music, dance and acting with a packed chapel audience to demonstrate how art has inspired transformative change and growth in their lives. Packed into wooden pews in the Catholic Chapel were over 200 San Quentin men and 70 outside guests for the event, entitled Artistic Rebirth. […]

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