All Articles: Opinion

Thoughts on My Life Among the Lifers

By ELAINE LEEDER As I walk through the iron doors, gates banging behind me, I often feel like I am entering a foreign world. For the past nine years, I have been running groups for “lifers” at San Quentin State Prison. These are men, sentenced to 15 years to life for first- and second-degree murder […]

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What’s the Point of Prison Sports?

By CHRIS “STRETCH” RICH Thanks to numerous volunteers and donations, San Quentin’s sports programs are thriving, despite severe budget cuts. Recreation and physical education programs in California prisons are founded on six broad goals providing inmates opportunities for achievement through participation in a range of programs that promote the following: Physical activity Physical fitness and […]

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Thinking About the H-Unit Search Episode

By R.F. GILLIAM On Monday morning, May 13, approximately 700 inmates housed in San Quentin’s H-Unit were taken out of their dorms and escorted onto the main recreation yard while custody staff performed a security search. This was not an unusual occurrence; searches are a routine and necessary part of prison life. What made this […]

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Going Home to See Becky

David Marsh wrote this column shortly before being paroled By DAVID MARSH FORGIVENESS: I will be leaving this place soon, in a matter of days, God willing. Yup, parole date coming up for me, again! Hope to make this one, on June 11th. And as a single father with three children, two of them minors, […]

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One Neighborhood…Two Paths, Two Lives…Why the Difference

By MICHAEL R. HARRIS My position with San Quentin News as Editor-in-Chief affords me the opportunity to meet and interview people from all walks of life, from the imprisoned to the free and notable alike. As a reporter my role is that of observer – an uninvolved representative of the readers. But one recent interview […]

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Budget Cuts Hit Chaplain Programs

By GREG COLLEY Despite that “R” for Rehabilitation in CDCR’s name, budget pressures have meant cutbacks in vocational, educational, self-help and similar programs often recognized as the most efficacious dollars spent in the California corrections budget. Political reality can, and frequently does, result in bad public policy. In such instances, we can only make the […]

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AS I SEE IT

By DAVID MARSH CHANGE: some of it good, some of it bad, but certainly plenty of it to go around for all that are a part of our system of incarceration. On both sides of the badge. Something for everybody! In H-Unit, lots of new faces. And the new faces are replacing all those inmates […]

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Happy on the one hand, but…

By WATANI STINER After serving 29 years on a second-degree murder charge, 67-year-old Fred Hempstead was finally granted parole and released from San Quentin on October 8. The governor declined to review the parole board’s unanimous decision to release him — unlike a previous occasion when the governor overruled the board. On one hand, I’m […]

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The Strong, Clear Voice of the Federal Court

By JULIANGLENN PADGETT The three-judge panel has thrown down a bold ruling in the Plata/Coleman v. Schwarzenegger battle. The legal triumvirate consists of United States District Judges Lawrence Karlton, Thelton Henderson and Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt. Their ruling mandates that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) must comply with the minimal constitutional […]

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The Shocking High Cost of the State’s Prison System

By R.F. GILLIAM On November 4, 1995, Leandro Andrade stole five videotapes worth $84.70 from a Kmart store in Ontario, California. For that and past crimes of burglary, transporting marijuana and petty thefts he was given a 50 years-to-life sentence. There are approximately 167,000 men and women incarcerated in California’s prisons. Each year it costs […]

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