By Ronald Gabriel
People might think Marin Shakespeare at SQ simply provides prisoners the opportunity to display their acting talent—but there’s a whole lot more to it.
The program actually bases its core principles around the rehabilitative benefits of drama therapy. Suraya Keating and Marianne S. facilitate the weekly workshops and are both professionally licensed therapists.
“We basically use the tools from theater arts to grow, transform and heal our lives,” said Keating. “When we come together to create a performance, we’re giving each other the space to share our authentic selves.
“To be seen and heard openly, we start to reveal our unique strengths, vulnerabilities and wounds.”
Each SQ theater cycle consists of first performing a Shakespeare play, and then revisiting some of the same themes through originally written “parallel” pieces. That’s where the significant therapeutic work takes place.
“The men get to share their own stories and reach into their own creativity,” said Marianne S. “They discover how to express their own truths.
“Then to actually perform this in front of an audience, they get the chance to directly affect people through their expressions of vulnerability.”
Drama therapy graduate students from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) spend a full cycle working with the SQ troupe. The immersive internship, called a “pre-practicum,” provides ample hands-on experience toward their Master’s.
The last cycle’s two students, Geno Creese and Daphne Ong, culiminated their pre-practicums by performing alongside their incarcerated colleagues Oct. 11.
A professional actor, Ong said she’d reached a point in her career where she felt she needed to reevaluate her future. Drama therapy seemed the natural answer.
“I’d always felt the therapeutic effects of performance art in my own theater experiences,” said Ong. “My work at SQ confirmed what I felt. What haven’t I learned here?
“I got to really engage—not just from an academic point of view, but to really see it in action and actively help people.”
Creese spent four years in Los Angeles pursuing his dreams of acting, but, just like Ong, he said he knew there was something lacking.
“I didn’t just want to be an actor. I wanted to heal and help others heal,” said Creese. “I wanted to share my own experience of healing through performance.
“Seeing all the beauty, joy and light within these guys every week, it really renewed in me the value of community—of a chosen family. It’s something I’ll carry with me.”
Keating first discovered her passion for drama therapy during her own graduate studies in 2005. Like Creese, Ong and many other CIIS students since then, Marin Shakespeare gave her a platform to nurture her craft.
“I’m super proud and touched by the courage, the openheartedness and spirit of support amongst our group,” said Keating. “For me, or any other facilitator, it’s good modeling.
“As we workshop and assume these character roles, it helps us examine what we ourselves struggle with being human.”
Keating splits her Marin Shakespeare duties between SQ and also CMF—where she said she enjoys working primarily with youths.
After already establishing a career in advertising, theater and film, Marianne S. said she went back to school late in life and reinvented herself.
“I was trying to figure out how I could be more of service, and I saw this beautiful program inside San Quentin,” she said. “Working with Suraya, I noticed right away how powerful trust is in this process.
“Men of different races and cultures coming together to put on work done for 400 years. These guys always show up for each other—that’s where all the trust comes in.”
The Oct. 23 performance of Marin Shakespeare at the San Quentin chapel featured another series of original parallel plays—inspired this time by The Winter’s Tale.
David Gadley started things off by illustrating the inner turmoil caused by overdose and an unavoidable drug test in Making Better Choices, before Jason Griffin examined the trauma of childhood abuse in A Hiding Place.
“I remember bruised faces, my mother pulling my hair—I remember myself,” SQ volunteer Chérie McNaulty said later about the powerful images Griffin’s poem evoked in her as she listened from the audience.
Seeing McNaulty noticeably shaken by his performance, Griffin immediately went to sit by her side in the pews after his reading.
“He was concerned about my emotions, but I told him that’s all part of the healing,” she said.
Derby Brown and Raiveon Wooden joined forces for Lethal vs. The Gruesome 3, which dealt with the frustrations that lead to mental crises and suicidal thoughts.
“Hey Mr. Suicide, why would you get those kids to take their own lives?” Brown voiced.
Then Belize Villafranco inspired everyone to get up and move around with his Healing Song. Audience members stood, clapped in rhythm and soon formed a conga line, weaving back and forth from the stage and into the pews.
Kerry Rudd next brought the crowd back to a contemplative mood with his play, Stay Greedy… or Make Amends? It told the story of a robbery crew that eventually returns the stolen loot to its owner.
Chris Thomas sang Remembering How To Breathe and enlisted Billingsley to pantomime a physical interpretation center stage. Then Billingsley performed his own Mind Yo Biz 2, a play about resolving old jealousies.
In his Freedom of Expression in the Midst of Oppression, Brown rejoiced through a chorus of “I’m rollin’ with Jesus—I’m rollin’ with Jesus.”
An institutional recall for prisoners in SQ’s H-Unit interrupted the show midway at 11:10 am. Performers housed in those dormitories were required to leave the chapel and report back to the unit.
Despite the unexpected shuffle of performances, Jessie Ayers’ Transitions hit a home run with its message of prejudice transformed into acceptance. Ayers drew from the observed discomfort some SQ prisoners hold against transwomen prisoners.
“How does a dude one day all of a sudden wake up and decide he’s a chick?” said Ayers in character—deriding a group of trans prisoners who simply said “hi” to him.
Suraya Keating and Kate Brickley played speaking roles as part of the trans group. They were joined on stage by SQ’s own Adriel Ramirez and Nah.na Reed.
“How do you call yourself a Christian?” Brickley’s character responded when Ayers attempted to cite the Bible as proof against transgenders. “I’m not your bro.”
“There’s only two rules in my house, honey—if you don’t fight it, I won’t bite it,” Keating’s pigtailed trans character chimed in to continue heckling Ayers.
The play shifted scenes to a full year later, when Ayers’ character encounters Brickley’s at a Christmas banquet. “Don’t act like I don’t see you all the time on the tier,” he tells her, referring to them being housed near each other in the same building.
“You see me… do you know what it means to just hear you say those words?” responds Brickley, starting to cry. “You see me.”
They end up shaking hands and wishing each other a Merry Christmas—all to huge rounds of standing applause.
To make up for some of the performers lost to the H-Unit recall, John Ray Ervin, Sr. gave an impromptu reading of original poetry. “This is live theater, y’all,” he said.
Richie Morris, who was recently found suitable for parole after 34 years behind bars, had 20 fellow prisoners join him onstage to face the audience.
Each person took the microphone to speak of his convicted offense aloud, along with his sentence and the number of years he’d already served.
“That’s 339 years total between us,” said Morris. “I want you to wrap your head around that—if you can.”
On that note, Morris and Quentin Blue closed the show with their song, The Last Mile.
The flyers and playbills clearly advertised a collection of “parallel plays,” yet hardly anyone who attended Marin Shakespeare
San Quentin’s October showcases knew quite what to expect.
“The performances you will see today invite us to contemplate a crucial choice many of us must make in our lives—the choice to live from fear or love,” explained Suraya Keating in her Director’s Notes.
The opening act on Oct. 11—Darwin Billingsley’s Father & Son: The Broken Curse—left no doubt that the audience in the SQ chapel would see the acting troupe bare their souls onstage.
Billingsley portrayed a family’s painful journey through the cycles of addiction, trauma, dysfunction and, finally, redemption and hope. Raiveon Wooden played his son.
“As father and son we come together—to break this curse, forever and ever,” chanted Billingsley and Wooden in their final scene, paralleling characters from Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen from Verona.
Sam Kouzzah read from his poem, Prodigal Son, while Tommy Payne, Kerry Rudd, and Wooden stood in place performing interpretative dance moves as they stared hauntingly out at the spectators.
In An Angel’s Curse, Jason Griffith revisited the theme of addiction before singing Nirvana’s Come as You Are.
Garry Grady, in his originally crafted Good vs. Evil, examined the human quality of why “it felt so good to be bad.”
Rudd read from SQ’s No More Tears group agreements before Andrew Wadsworth read an apology letter to his victim, Antonio Young.
High energy and drama ensued next as Philippe Kelly and Wooden riled up the chapel crowd during Justice, a play filled with rivalry and vengeance that featured multiple well-choreographed fight scenes.
“Where’s Raygeta? Where is he?” Kelly growled as he stalked his way through the aisle ways and pews. He got right into the face of audience members, and they ate it up.
Punches, throw downs, karate kicks to the head—such theatrics kept the crowd fully engaged. Midway through, Kelly even dragged Wooden’s limp body entirely out of the chapel in an attempt to dispose of his enemy.
After a grand finale group battle reminiscent of professional wrestling, Kelly and Wooden clutched each other face to face and yelled, “If you smell what Shakespeare is cooking…” a nod to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Before his play, Bed Time Story, Tommy Payne—with the video help of First Watch’s Adamu Chan—produced a short animation film as a complementary preamble to his cautionary tale of wizards, magic and gnomes.
John Ray Ervin, Sr., read his spoken word Dear Soul from offstage while Kelly and Wooden returned to stand in somber silence with their backs against one another.
Ervin came to the performance in a wheelchair, refusing to miss his chance to speak his piece about the day he lost his mother, Annamarie. “That day, half of my heart died,” he read.
Rudd next performed Complicated, a tune he wrote himself. Before starting, he told the audience, “Even though I’m in state prison, I’m gonna have a good time singing it.”
Ronell Draper, who most people at SQ know simply as “Rauch,” likened his “When Will It Be Enuff?” to a public service announcement, rather than a performance.
“This is to showcase what goes on here, so you can understand what you’re seeing. The men and women in blue—they’re expert therapists,” he said. “How many of you are part of my support team? Anyone—please stand up.”
Over twenty people, prisoners and outside persons alike, rose to Draper’s call. He segued his presentation into equating prison reform to community reform, pointing to Marin Shakespeare’s mix of inside and outside participants.
“I’m moved,” said Draper to the audience. “You came here to see us. Imagine that.”
Wooden returned again for his short piece, Love Is Poison, in which he personified love as a female entity. “Is love poison?” he asked. “It all depends on how you treat her.”
The Oct. 11 performance ended on a high note with Belize Villafranco’s Healing Story and Song. The whole ensemble gathered onstage and spilled into the front pews as Villafranco led them in lively rhythmic dance.
Renowned acting company finds emotional connection with incarcerated actors
First visiting the historic and innovative prison in June, this time the Hamilton gang filled an entire row of the SQ chapel for an original theater experience inspired by Shakespeare.
“I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did,” said Darilyn Castillo, who plays dual roles. “The comedic angle in some of the pieces was really refreshing.
“And it was great to hear the ‘public service announcement’ from that guy—what was his name? Rauch [Ronell Draper]?—to take that pause from performing for a moment of realness. I felt it. It was real.”
Asst. Company Manager Crystal Clayton visibly shed a tear or two during the two-hour collection of short plays.
“Right from the beginning it was very clear how hard they worked to showcase their pieces,” she said. “I laughed. I cried.
“I felt so many emotions sitting in the chapel, watching them perform one by one—each so different, yet all filled with so much heart, passion and emotion.
“They should be extremely proud, knowing they are not only creating change amongst themselves, but changing each and every one of us who had the pleasure of watching them.”
After the show, the Hamilton folks made sure to speak with the SQ acting troupe for as long as time permitted before leaving to perform back in the city that evening.
Lead standby Marja Harmon’s warm, broad smile stood out like a spotlight as she shook hands and congratulated the SQ Shakespeare company.
“Watching the men perform their original pieces was incredibly humbling,” said Harmon. “It was a perfect reminder of the healing power of theater and music.
“The vulnerability and creativity that was on display was remarkable. It was a beautiful transference of energy and connection.”
Hamilton understudy Rebecca E. Covington has personally seen mass incarceration affect her own family’s past. “Coming into San Quentin truly means something each time for me,” she said. “It’s very healing to interact with you guys.”
The correlation between Hamilton and the SQ performance hit home for Castillo. “Everything that was performed today had this great connectiveness that was very fitting to each person,” she said. “Not lost in that connection was all the individuality.
“That’s the same thing that makes Hamilton so meaningful for us as actors—it’s not cookie cutter. We all get to be ourselves.
“And that’s what made today so special—that same connection and support. We felt that in there.”
Marin Shakespeare Asst. Director Marianne S. told SQNews later, “I’ve seen this actual cast perform. Donald [Webber, Jr.] plays Aaron Burr to the fullest as he turns to the dark side and kills Hamilton.
“I told Ray Ray [Raiveon Wooden] to ask him, ‘What’s it like to be the villain?’ Accessing your dark side and having the audience dislike you—that takes courage.
“It was great to see him engage with Webber and have that conversation.”
Wooden’s eyes lit up when asked about their interaction. “I put my whole heart into that show,” he said later. “It was a real gift for us to have these professional actors in the house watching us.
“He [Webber] told me what a great job I did—that I really channeled all my energy into being the bad guy. To hear him tell me that in person. Wow.”
Webber himself appreciated both theater communities getting the chance to mingle. “These guys are real actors. I feel re-inspired for our show tonight,” he said. “I heard they’re doing Othello next. I’d like to come back for that.”
By R. Ramirez, Contributing Writer
Historical murals are being created by the men of Avenal State Prison’s Facility F yard, capturing the pains and transformations of prison life.
A two-part mural was painted on the Facility F chow hall walls. It aims to tell a compelling story. The paintings begin with incarcerated people working on a chain gang, showcasing one of the first forms of punishment in prison life. The paintings were created to help people visually travel, decade by decade, through what prison was like in those times, according to the artists.
“When I was a child I was surrounded by negative influences inside the household and around the neighborhood,” said A. Dupone, one of the artists. “I used art as a way to get away from all the negativity around me. I would put my ear buds on and listen to some music and block everything out.”
To this day, Dupone stills puts his ear buds on while creating his art, even being incarcerated.
All the artists used real photos from other incarcerated people and correctional officers. They even had a photo of the Folsom warden from back in the 1800s. The artists painted a detailed picture of singer Johnny Cash performing “Folsom Blues” for the prisoners back in the ’60s. The mural ends by capturing life in the Pelican Bay SHU (Security Housing Unit).
“I enjoyed creating art,” said artist R. Hernandez. “I discovered that I had some real art skills back in middle school, but I stopped drawing. It wasn’t till I got incarcerated that I started creating art again and regained my drive for it.”
The second part of the mural displays different self-help programs available on the Facility F yard. One of them is YAPP, a youth diversion program, where troubled youth come to hear testimony from the men who are incarcerated at ASP. The program give the kids a glimpse of how life in prison is.
A third and final piece will be about life after prison. It will consist of people continuing on the right path of rehabilitation. The paintings will display returning people who are working to support themselves and their family. It will also showcase them spending time with family and enjoying the precious moments with people they love.
“I have been drawing since the age of eight,” said W. Carrera, artist. “At that time I knew I had a passion for art, and I still enjoy displaying my art to this day.”
The entire mural crew consists of R. Hernandez, W. Carrera , D. Devine, S. Kaslove, and A. Dupone and R. Ramirez.
“We were are honored and blessed to be able to show our art and talent to Facility F and bring a positive environment to our community,” said the mural crew.
About a dozen San Francisco Bay Area art lovers in search of astonishing art ended up at San Quentin State Prison on August 21.
“How can we get people thinking and doing different things about the people in San Quentin?” Lashaw asked.
A curator at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, said that she’s looking for artists who currently have limited exposure to the art world, which brought her to San Quentin.
Santos won a prison art contest to paint a mural on one of the 100-foot-long dining hall walls and began painting in 1953. After completion of the first mural, prison officials decided to allow Santos to continue painting. He has generally been credited with all six 12-foot-high murals on the walls of the dining hall. It’s clear that some of the murals are the result of a community effort.
While on the tour, Tomoko noted the similarities between Rivera and Santos. She said that it’s clear that Santos drew on the work of Rivera.
In the arts studio Tomoko admired the work of incarcerated artists. “The art here is impeccable,” Tomoko said to the assembled artists. “It’s amazing to hear stories about people who have discovered their abilities and talents in prison.”
A representative from Pro Arts Gallery & Commons [located at 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612] presented its publication, Pro Arts Commons, which aims to give readers an understanding of common spaces in Oak- land.
According to the Pro Arts Gallery & Commons newsletter, spaces for public gatherings have been steadily disappearing. “It is not accidental that the land and resources belonging to and affecting the whole community are being commodified.”
Some of the objectives of the organization include getting people to find new ways to reclaim public spaces as well as actively co-creating ideas, projects, programs, and published content.
Currently, Pro Arts Gallery & Commons also seeks material from San Quentin writers.
The tour ended with the outside artists and incarcerated artists agreeing to find ways for future collaborations.
Just outside the Receiving and Release building 40 incarcerated men sat, squat or bent over and held chalk of every color to decorate a 32 inch by 32 inch square on a tar surface with the artists’ meaning of peace. It’s all for The Day of Peace https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Day_of_PeaceSidewalk Chalk Contest.
Hines, who facilitates the William James Association https://williamjamesassociation.org/prison_arts/ sponsored Arts in Corrections program in San Quentin, would determine first, second, third and honorable mention.
Hines is familiar with the sidewalk art in the local community.
“San Rafael has an annual sidewalk chalk contest, so it’s nice to have one here, too,” Hines said. “The guys are expressing personal stuff that’s related to how they see peace — it’s also nice to see all the colorful pieces, the chalk allow them to do that.”
First place was awarded color paper, watercolor paper and paint and color pencils. Second and third won, watercolor paper and paint as well as color pencils.
Volunteer Kat Morgan, from Urban Adamah https://www.urbanadamah.org/ (Earth) comes inside San Quentin every month to hold Shabat services. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shabbat Morgan looked at all the pieces and liked No. 9 and No.17.
“I’m a musician,” Morgan said about No. 9, “And music is peace.
“I think that if everyone practiced Loving Kindness, the world would be a better place,” Morgan said about No. 17. While watching the artists work, Morgan added, “This is a chance for everyone to participate — it’s great to have it out in public and everyone enjoying it.”
Holly Stuckey drew No. 12.
“I was trying to thread the needle between making it and deer and “Kawaii,” which means cute in Japanese.”
Amy Ho said, “I feel like there’s more people this year—it’s more diversity of artists participating—more people who are not in the art program.”
First: Holly Gustafson; Second: Eric Rives; Third: Holly Stuckey; Fourth: Myers (K47097)
Gustafson said, “It’s a butterfly with peace signs in its wings. The heart and love represents peace in here.” She added, “The colors go with peace — they are mellow pastels, rather than the bright colors.”
Referring to the Day of Peace, Gustafson said, “It nice to have stuff like this—it shows that change is coming. More prisons should do this.”
When asked to describe the day in one word, Gustafson said, “Beautiful.”
“The EOP program has enriched my life”
San Quentin’s No Limits Dance Crew raised the roof once again during their May performance. The crew stepped it up and debuted their first piece of original choreography in the education department of the prison’s dormitory yard.
“The men came up with most of the moves, I just directed them in the space,” said Ms. Bridges, the program facilitator, “I’m so proud of them.”
The squad danced to an instrumental version of the song I Got Five On It with a pleasantly surprising violin added into the mix. It provided the perfect backdrop for their routine’s style— hip-hop and ballet fusion.
A standout feature of the routine was a dance circle, in which each performed a solo, displaying their distinctive styles.
“Heeeyyy! Hooo! Heeeyyy! Hooo!,” the crew chanted in unison, as their fellow dancers jumped into the middle of the circle one by one, showing off their moves.
Dancer Gary Brown showed off his newly created dance that he named The Swang, in which he swung one hand in a circular motion above his head while he fluidly mimicked the circular motion with his knees.
Then, dancer Matthew Paradise garnered cheers from the crowd as he confidently performed a popular dance called The Floss.
The following sequence was a mock dance battle, showing off synchronized step moves and precise pliés, which is a ballet movement with the knees bent and the back straight.
The whole routine ended with crew member Steele performing a “Krunk” solo, swinging his hands forward and backwards with intense emotion.
All the dancers then stood up and bowed as the crowd cheered, encouraging three encore performances.
The No Limits Dance Crew has been gaining a loyal fan base throughout the prison. Audience members from nearby H-Unit as well as the distant CHSB main hospital attended.
“We want to thank everybody for showing up,” the No Limits Dance Crew said in a joint statement, “We always want to give a round of applause to our audience.”
The No Limits Dance Crew is part of the rehabilitative programming offered by the Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP). EOP is a mental health treatment program.
Ms. Bridges, an EOP clinician, created the dance crew as a therapeutic tool for the participants’ mental health issues.
She brings to the program 20 years of dance and choreography experience, as well as a degree in dance.
To prepare, the team practiced twice a week in one-and-a-half hour sessions. Practicing the moves helped the men with their fine muscle motor coordination.
The idea to fuse ballet with hip-hop was inspired by a movie the crew watched called Street Dance, which they described as a British version of the dance movie Step Up.
Creating their own original choreography presented challenges, which the men turned into learning opportunities.
Controversies arose as each man tried to contribute his unique ideas to create an exciting routine.
“Even though we have disagreements, when we come together, we end up making something better,” dancer Steele said, “It’s all about teamwork.”
“The EOP program has enriched my life,” said crew- member Brown, “I want to thank Ms. Bridges and the No Limits Dance Crew. EOP is a blessing.”
Future cops, probation officers and students of criminal justice from Britain got an up-close view of an American prison during a visit to San Quentin. They met the incarcerated artists who had donated paintings to the University of Derby’s gallery.
The art hangs in Friar Gate Square — “It’s a big copper building. People call it the copper box,” said Charlotte Hargreaves, head of the university’s criminology and social science departments. “The art tells a story — you don’t see the inmate; you see the art.”
On the May 30 visit, Hargreaves was joined by 12 undergrads and Tony Blockley, head of policing.
Hargreaves and Blockley mingled with the artists in the prison’s art studio while the undergrads toured the prison. When the students completed the tour, they joined the professors in the studio.
“The students are very honest with their questions to the artists,” said Carol Newborg, manager of the San Quentin Arts in Corrections program. “They’ve been all over the U.S. touring, but San Quentin is the only place where they meet incarcerated people.”
Orlando Smith talked about the piece he donated.
“I envisioned it as the future,” Smith said. “I’m wearing prison clothes, and then I’m at Comic-Con. What that means is that the future is yet to be written — so the piece is called, This or That.”
Stanley Bey has donated art to Derby for the past three years.
“My art talks about the struggles of humanity shouldered by women and men together because without them things will never go to the future and will stay in the past,” Bey said.
Second-year student Ellen Moss said, “I love the art. Each one has a message behind it.” She recalled a painting of a train donated last year by James Norton, “That really stood out.”
Moss said she plans to work for criminal justice reform in the United Kingdom by getting rehabilitation programs into every prison.
“I want young people to get rehabilitation so that they don’t resort to gang activity,” Moss said. “I won’t give up. I’ll write angry letters to all of the leadership, including the prime minister, until they get sick of hearing from me. I’ll tell them when things are bad or they’ve done something awful.”
Hargreaves said the idea of the U.S. trip was “to get an international aspect of criminology and to let the students see systems that are not Euro-centric.”
The students also toured Alcatraz, went on a ride-a-long with Berkeley police, and visited the San Francisco public defender and probation departments.
The students also visited a state university in Los Angeles to study a gang- reduction program, a juvenile hall, a shooting range and the county jail.
“That was awful,” Hargreaves said about the jail conditions. What struck her was the number of people in the U.S. serving sentences of “proper life,” or “life without the possibility of parole.”
There are a significantly lower number of prisoners serving “proper life” in England, only several hundred, while in the U.S. there are tens of thousands. She also noted that the lengths of sentences in the U.S. are much longer for the same kind of crimes in England.
Second-year student Rachael Livermore said she best enjoyed the ride-a-long with Berkeley police.
“They showed us areas where crime occurs,” Livermore said. “It was interesting.”
Livermore says that she would like to become a probation officer and help people with mental illnesses.
“In my family, mental health is a big thing — it’s impacted my family,” she said. “But, I couldn’t work in a prison. I’d come home in tears too many days.”
Livermore said that watching media influenced her perspective about incarcerated people.
“You see things in the media and it’s so harsh. It’s so humbling to talk to you all — you all are so friendly.”
Asked to consider how crime victims might take that statement, Livermore said, “Even though the victim’s families need justice and punishment — many times after decades of incarceration the person who committed, even an awful crime, might not be the same person — people change.”
Livermore liked the painting donated last year that resembled The Scream, “It describes life on the inside very well,” she said.
While in San Francisco, the students served meals to the homeless.
Blockley commented on how working in a soup kitchen affected the students: “When they are serving food, they realize that they are serving human beings and they realize the blessing of their circumstance.”
Hargreaves noticed “the stark difference between rich and poor” in San Francisco. Adding, serving the homeless “humanized the poor. I think our students will learn more this week than their whole three years from the bachelor’s program.”
Hargreaves took notice of armed police officers in the U.S. British police officers are normally unarmed. She said the concept of millions of guns and millions of incarcerated people seems almost “inconceivable,” adding, “the population of San Quentin is equivalent to one of our small towns.”
Next year the university plans to visit Holland before coming to the U.S. with an idea to give students a broader perspective on the treatment of incarcerated people.
Hargreaves talked about her work with juveniles. She said she found it troubling that 14- 15- year-old youngsters read at a 5th grade level and “the system did nothing to address it.” Nevertheless, she said that the UK juvenile system went from incarcerating about 10,000 children to around 800.
“There needs to be much more in rehabilitation and educational opportunities for incarcerated people,” Hargreaves said.
Blockley commented that new police recruits must earn a bachelor’s degree.
“A college degree gives them the tools to critically think about the people they deal with on a daily basis,” Blockley said.
“If we are able to communicate, we are able to see things differently. That’s what an education can do,” Blockley said. “It can allow the officer to consider the cultural differences in the country.”
Blockley said, “If we’re truly about education, it’s about preparing the students for the rest of their lives. The experience that they get from coming inside San Quentin will be remembered for the rest of their lives.
“When our students come in to San Quentin and talk to the artists, that experience cannot be taken away.”