Explaining Our Principal Roles

By Sam W. Johnson Sr.

The Men’s Advisory Council (MAC) is a group of inmates elected by the general inmate population at San Quentin. They act in an advisory capacity while communicating on issues of common interest to prison administrators and inmates.

One of the MAC’s principal goals is developing a working relationship between inmates and staff to improve the living conditions for San Quentin inmates.

The MAC serves a dual purpose, both equally important. The first is to provide inmates of San Quentin with representation and a voice in administrative deliberations and decisions affecting the welfare and best interest of all inmates. The second is to provide the Warden with a means to communicate administrative actions, and the reason for such action, with the general inmate population.


On Oct. 16, two members of the inmate community died. One inmate resided in the West Block Housing Unit and the other inmate resided in the North Block Housing Unit. The MAC wants to acknowledge and recognize the exhaustive efforts of the North Block supervisory staff, medical staff, correctional staff and the emergency responding staff (Med 1) in attempting to save the life of the North Block inmate, who later died. Unfortunately, the inmate residing in West Block had expired by the time potential help arrived.


The following people exemplified the value of human life by attempting to save a prisoner:

North Block Staff Correctional Sergeant J. Van Blarcom, Correctional Officers R. Broyles, D. Chrystaline, J. Hannah; Medical Staff TTA’s C. Goodwin, M. Soumahoro, H. Carneiro; Med 1 Crew Members Captain J. Cerini, inmates D. Edgerly, C. Salavar, M. Krohn, A. Gibbs, F. Castro, and special acknowledgement to the automated “AED Defibrillator” (an electronic device that applies an electric shock to restore the rhythm of a fibrillating heart).

I, along with MAC executive secretary N. Thoa, and a number of other inmates, personally witnessed these responders performing CPR. Sweat was rolling from their faces as they relayed (trading places) one after another, in their tireless efforts to revive the inmate.

Prison can be a cold place, and most often incarcerated people are made to feel unloved, unvalued, inferior, disrespected and forgotten. But on that day, I was blessed to see correctional staff, inmates, and medical staff work together feverishly trying to save the life of that inmate.


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