PRISONER GROUP OFFERS COMPASSION TO OTHERS
A group of San Quentin prisoners called the Gold Coats have been selected to help elderly, sick and wheelchair-bound fellow prisoners live more comfortable and productive lives.
Duties of the Gold Coats include guiding disabled prisoners to and from leisure time activities, support groups, and school. They also help them get to medical appointments.
The program is called Inmate Disability Assistance Program.
“As the inmates get older throughout the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,” said Glen Harden, one of the Gold Coats, “the creation of programs like (this) will definitely be a much-needed asset to this prison community.”
Harden said he was motivated to be a Gold Coat worker by his personal struggle with HIV, witnessing disability assistance programs at other institutions, and his Christian belief in being of service.
“Since I’ve come to know Christ, I know the Gold Coat program is definitely a part of my growth,” Harden said. “I’ve been in medical facilities for the past 15 years, due to my own medical conditions. During that time, I’ve had the chance to see this program in action, and the Inmate Disability Assist Program is what these men need here at San Quentin.”
Harden, 51, was in prison from 1991 to 1997 for assault with a deadly weapon and robbery. He returned years later for armed robbery under the Three Strikes Law. The term “Gold Coats” comes from the bright gold-colored jackets worn by each worker.
The Inmate Disability Assistance Program is a statewide plan that has been implemented throughout CDCR, said John Curzon, Associate Warden of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He noted the program provides accommodations to prisoners with disabilities pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“The department is taking a proactive approach to address its aging inmate population,” said Curzon. “And as the ADA, my unit worked in concert with headquarters to get this program started.”
The program is constantly receiving many positive comments, “and I attribute the comments to the assigned inmate disability assistance workers of San Quentin,” Curzon said.
Harden praised Curzon and Lt. Williams for helping make the program successful.
“Our group is unique. We come from various backgrounds,” said Harden. “What I see is brother to brother, inmate to inmate helping each other overcome the difficulties of being handicapped or getting old in prison.”
The San Quentin Gold Coats are Harden, Anthony President, Raymond C. Mayor, Gregory Bedford and Shaka Senegal Muhammad.