Confining offenders without trying to change them is an experience of folly with short benefits of winning battles while losing the war. It is wrong. It is expensive. It is stupid, according to former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger.
San Quentin Alliance for Change is a consortium of prisoners, community volunteers, and prison staff working in conjunction to facilitate the re-socialization of incarcerated men and to create a successful re-integration process into the community.
Alliance for Change has formed a series of interaction guides for prisoners and members of the public to use, with the goal of creating safer communities. The idea begins by looking for volunteers to donate professional expertise in the day-to-day operation of the alliance.
The Alliance actively seeks individuals who are involved in the justice system, and law enforcement, as well as judges, district attorneys, parole officers, institutional staff, and community members who are crime victims.
Volunteers donate time to assist prisoners with critically needed social and interpersonal development, resume development, job interview skills, budgeting and other life skills are taught to prisoners who expect to be returned to their communities.
Paulette Brown has been coming to San Quentin since the death of her son four years ago and at the Alliance for Change banquet, Brown spoke on behalf of the survivors of crime. Brown promised to continue to participate with self-help programs to understand why her son was murdered, and why perpetrators commit their crimes. Her message to the perpetrators is how they are hurting families and the communities. “People of violence need to come out of prison and work with the community,” Brown said. “Working with people that hurt people heals the community.”
Individuals versed in effective communication, fundraising and networking are extremely important to the alliance.
Ricky “Malik” Harris, Alliance vice chairman, remarked, “…justice is not something we choose, but something we should all do together.”
Naghznidl “Shahid” Rouse, Education co-leader, maintained, “At the beginning of a new journey, we are a team that is working hard to bring change to our communities.”
Johnny Taylor, Evaluation Services co-leader, said, “The ones who go home and struggle, only to return back to prison with no programs, need to be reached and helped.”
Marvin Andrews, public relations, used a quote from Jesse Jackson to express his sentiments: “Never look down on someone, unless you are helping them up.”
Ernest W. M. Morgan VIII, public relations co-director for the San Quentin Alliance for Change, relating the words of W.E.B. Dubois to the effects of prison said, “The problem is plain before you. We are a community transplanted through our own criminal actions. I want to say that if we don’t lift ourselves up, the system will pull us down. Education, employment and social reintegration are the levers to uplift the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women.
THE RIGHT IDEALS
“Employment alone will not do it unless it is inspired by the right ideals and guided by intelligence. Education must not simply teach work skills, it must teach life skills.”
Acting Warden Vincent Cullen attended an event hosted by the Alliance group in December 2010 and said he was happy to see the beginning of the Alliance program. “I think that the Alliance for Change is going to be one of the premier programs of San Quentin.”