In 2008, I was approached by Kenny Brydon about a new project he was asked to work on. He was asked to be the Editor-in-Chief of the re-activated San Quentin News, and he was concerned about all the players involved in the project.
For one, he was unsure about the intentions of the administration. He also wanted my opinion about the Managing Editor, Michael “Harry O” Harris. At that time, I had been working with Michael on a few other projects and had a good feeling about him. I told Kenny, “I think you should do it.”
After Michael’s departure from San Quentin, I joined the Journalism Guild to learn more about the newspaper. Because I had prior computer training both inside and outside prison, some of the staff found me to be useful in the office.
A few years ago, I was asked by Arnulfo Garcia to leave my job on the Captain’s Porch to come work for the newspaper. Although I was comfortable where I was, I have lived a life where I have grown accustomed to change. Truth be told, I didn’t jump at the opportunity right away, but after thinking long and hard about the benefits of working with the newspaper, I joined the team.
At first, my job was problem-solver. I helped to get guys started with technology, of which they had little experience. I left the streets in 1998, but many of the staff had either been incarcerated longer or had never in their lives used a computer.
Because of my calm personality and the fact that I have learned to listen really well, I became problem-solver for personal issues as well. At least, I tried to facilitate office conflict resolution with men who were not accustomed to or comfortable with expressing their feelings using words.
I graduated from that to being the Deputy Editor of the Management Team and was responsible for writing grants, keeping track of expenses, assisting our webmaster outside with redesigning our website, and acting as Editor-in-Chief in Arnulfo Garcia’s absence. I learned more than I ever thought I would working with Arnulfo, who surprises many with his ability to navigate political arenas.
|“I am ready to continue our mission of informing
the public about what can be done in prison to make everyone safer”|
It had been understood for over a year now that I would be the person to take over if and when Arnulfo left prison. Arnulfo has worked hard at changing his life through programs and reconnecting with his family. Today, he is much closer to parole than he was when I began with the newspaper. Instead of just dropping the newspaper in my lap, as was done with him, he chose to step back, or step up, and guide me through the process while he is still here.
I want to make this clear for every reader and supporter: Day One was, and excuse my language, a ridiculous test to my testicular fortitude. Most of my issues thus far have come from dealing with non-incarcerated individuals with interesting agendas. As our former Adviser Steve McNamara once told me, coming inside of prison, “This is where all the civilized people are.”
I am ready to continue our mission of informing the public about what can be done in prison to make everyone safer, and maybe someday, make prisons obsolete.
It should be noted that the success of the programs at San Quentin started by the incarcerated men who desired a change for their lives. We work to inform prisoners, family and friends of prisoners and those who work in the criminal justice field about the positive work at San Quentin.
I know that we are having an impact. The response we receive through letters, messages on our website, visitors who look forward to the next issue and the men on the yard are the reason we do this work and I believe that we will get even better.