In 2008 Warden Robert Ayers removed San Quentin News from the shelf, dusted it off and put the responsibility of managing the newspaper in the hands of a group of inmates advised by retired professional journalists. In our previous editorial, Steve McNamara wrote about the history of SQ News and how it was revived. What you didn’t read about were the dreams that the inmate staff has to expand the newspaper to nationwide circulation. The inmate staff is aware of the many challenges they would face to fulfill this endeavor. Nevertheless, … [Read more...] about San Quentin News ‘Moves Forward’
If you are ever lucky enough to land in San Quentin Prison, walk down the hill to the Lower Yard. Check out the tennis and basketball courts, the baseball field and the drop-dead view of Mt. Tam. Then make your way through the crowd of inmates to the office of the San Quentin News (S.Q. News), one of the few print newspapers in America that is actually flourishing. Of course it helps that the paper’s main target audience – prison inmates – has no access to the Internet, which is where a lot of newspaper readers outside of prison have taken … [Read more...] about The Impressive Growth of San Quentin News
After reading the transcripts of prisoner Duane Edward Holt, it became apparent to me that he is living in an abyss, lost in an enormous black hole with no light. Holt is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. He never knows when he will be released. At his fourth parole board appearance on Jan. 8, he was denied parole for lack of insight and minimizing his role in the March 24, 1987, murder of Richard John Urban Jr. Five years later after Holt’s conviction, Robert Curl was found guilty of the same murder. Curl now sits on Death … [Read more...] about Parole Hearings: Where The Truth Won’t Set You Free
A decade and a half ago, Californians passed a ballot measure to provide drug offenders with treatment instead of jail time. Recently, a state appeals court clarified Proposition 36, saying addiction treatment must be given, unless the offender poses a danger to the public. The case stems from a parolee who was sentenced to county jail for drug possession. After the jail term, he was given a parole violation and sent to state prison. He challenged the prison sentence, saying he should have been given drug treatment according to the 2000 … [Read more...] about Paroled ‘Lifers’ Deserve Drug Diversion
At 23 Kim (Al-Ameen) McAdoo of Oakland was arrested for the murder of Tracy Smith and attempted murder of Brian Cole. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In a book review for Patten College, McAdoo reveals himself as a reckless young gang member who terrorized his community. He did this by selling drugs and carrying guns that led to a turf war, which took the life of an innocent young woman. She had nothing to do with violence, but made the fatal mistake of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The author describes … [Read more...] about Figuring Out I Was in Fact a Gang Member
Violence is a tragic expression of unmet needs. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a program which helps us look beyond violent actions in the world to address the root causes of the violence. The founder of NVC refers to violence as the “tragic expression of unmet needs,” whether in the form of physical violence, substance abuse, domestic violence, or emotional abuse. Needs refer to what we all need for life--air, food, water, sleep, and also to our deepest values such as love, consideration, or to matter. If, for example, we believe that … [Read more...] about Violence is The ‘Tragic Expression of Unmet Needs’
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 was different. I became a part of the story from the start. While doing research for the Judge Henderson story I came across information that was both disturbing and inspiring. What I found pertains to his life, to our community and to many … [Read more...] about One Neighborhood…Two Paths, Two Lives…Why the Difference
I’ve left behind the walls of the prison, having paroled on June 11. But I’m still fighting to reach freedom, one slow step at a time. I’m homeless for now, for the first time in my life, and I’m 54 years old. I’d never have imagined that there is such complexity to being successful at being homeless. But there is, and it’s a struggle to learn it. Until June 11 the folks at San Quentin cooked my meals, gave me a bed to sleep in, even did my laundry if I’d let ‘em, and gave me a job on the newspaper to keep me busy and out of trouble. The … [Read more...] about I’m Out On Parole: So What Do I Do Now?
San Quentin News editors Michael R. Harris and David Marsh sat down recently with San Quentin Warden Vincent Cullen (A). Cullen took over from Robert K. Wong on January 1 after serving one year as San Quentin’s Chief Deputy Warden (CDW). The transcribed interview is edited for space and clarity. Does anything stand out from your time as CDW? It seems like about only six months have gone by, when you think about it, it’s been well over a year now… Transitioning and closing of Neumiller [South Block] and the TTA [Triage Treatment Area] over … [Read more...] about Vince Cullen Makes His Pitch as Warden of S.Q.
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 best of a bad situation. Faith and spiritual activities may become another case in point. In these programs the budget shoe has not yet dropped, but certainly could. Are we prepared for … [Read more...] about Budget Cuts Hit Chaplain Programs