Heriberto Arredondo, Jr., 46, a San Quentin News staff member, was released on parole in August. He was 16 years old when he was sent to prison. Thirty years later he is a changed man. Everyone in the newsroom called him “Eddie.”
“I was just a kid when I came to prison,” Arredondo said. He was found suitable for parole on Cinco de Mayo, the same day the COVID-19 pandemic modified program at San Quentin ended. He came into the newsroom and said, “I got good news and bad news. The bad news is I’m not gonna work here anymore. The good news is I’m going home.” Everyone cheered.
Arredondo worked two years for the News. He was a staff writer who translated many of the stories from English to Spanish. When other staff paroled he took on additional responsibilities, such as communicating with the men who write for the Spanish section of the newspaper.
“Eddie (Arredondo) was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met,” said Marcus Henderson, Editor in Chief. “He was passionate about telling stories on rehabilitative programs for the youth, and he was inspirational about running the Spanish Journalism Guild after Juan (Espinosa) paroled.”
Like most of the News staff, Arredondo was an early worker. He showed up at the newsroom after breakfast to help sweep, mop, disinfect tables and organize the material so inmates, outside volunteers, and prison staff would have a clean, safe, and welcoming work environment.
Arredondo also helped to proof, coordinate and fine-tune the production of the Wall City Spanish issue, San Quentin News’ quarterly magazine; and he helped to coordinate the final publication of the Spanish Journalism Guild handbook.
Much of Arredondo’s time working in the newsroom was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic that placed the prison on a modified program for more than 400 days, but like most of the staff, he worked from his cell.
During the pandemic, he encouraged the Spanish writers to remain attentive for the time when News operations returned to normal after the prison reopened. “He held the Spanish Guild together when things got tough,” said David Ditto. who is the paper’s circulation manager and also speaks fluent Spanish.
“He really made us laugh,” said Ditto. “I’m going to miss his sense of humor the most. He really embraced the concept of teamwork from day one.”
Arredondo was paroled to the Los Angeles area and has expressed interest in working with the guys in the newsroom through its non-profit fundraising organization Friends of San Quentin News. He’s one of more than a dozen News alumni who paroled while active staff members of the newspaper since it restarted in 2008. All alumni have maintained a zero percent recidivism rate.