Solano State Prison resident Ray Williams Jr. created animated caricatures of formerly incarcerated journalists who were part of San Quentin’s radio program UnCuffed.
Williams conceived of the idea when formerly incarcerated journalists and San Quentin volunteers took a trip to Oslo, Norway, to be part of the first ever Prison Radio International Conference, which was featured in the August 2022 issue of San Quentin News.
The artist, incarcerated for 23 years, is in Delancey Street Honors Program at Solano State Prison.
“I want to start off by saying thank you for all the effort and dedication that’s put forth towards supplying the incarcerated with the San Quentin News,” said Williams. “Here’s a few San Quentin celebrities that deserve a shout out.”
Williams sketched Andrew Stelzer of UnCuffed; Diane Kahn, co-founder of Humans of San Quentin; formerly incarcerated journalist Tommy Ross; Sonia Paul of KALW Radio; Ear Hustle co-founder Earlonne Woods and formerly incarcerated independent filmmaker Adamu Chan.
A teacher by profession, Diane Kahn co-founded Humans of San Quentin. The organization’s mission is to shine a light in every prison cell and reveal the humanity inside. “The vulnerability I felt from people in blue touched me and I felt it was a crime not to share their stories from behind bars,” Kahn said.
Another one of Williams’ subjects, Andrew Stelzer, is a volunteer who helped teach the incarcerated radio journalists. He has been in radio since 2001.
“Being in radio doesn’t require certifications or degrees. It is all about what you can produce and how you sound on the mic and your editing skills,” said Stelzer. “It’s all about the story and engaging with other people.”
Tommy Ross believes the audio journalism class helped him develop his voice and improve his communication and interviewing skills. He also learned to edit and navigate ProTools computer technology.
Earlonne Woods co-founded Ear Hustle with Professor Nigel Poor during his incarceration. Ear Hustle is a podcast that records inside San Quentin, telling stories of people inside. Woods continues to co-host the show since his release.
Adamu Chan is a formerly incarcerated filmmaker and photographer for what was then called First Watch, a platform where incarcerated people were able to film events inside San Quentin. Chan paroled during the COVID pandemic.