Journalism is evolving throughout the California correctional system with the creation of newspapers, podcasts and newsletters.
The Men of Vision Think Tank, a group of incarcerated men in Calipatria State Prison launched the E=MindTap2 newsletter with the support of the administration at the maximum-security institution.
“When this newsletter was put together, it was done so with your paper (in mind),” said Marlon Gray, the newsletter’s editor-in-chief, in a letter to the San Quentin News (SQN).
“Your (SQN’s) success and professionalism are what we aim to achieve through the Men of Vision (MOV).”
E=MindTap2, the newsletter’s name, is a play on Albert Einstein’s E=MC2. But in this case, E=Education. MindTap is a digital instructor that teachers and educators use to teach students to be critical thinkers, said Gray. To make this concept of education and critical thinking grow, it must be
“Any student of math knows that when you square something, you make it that much bigger,” said Gray. The newsletter provides in-depth Q&As with other incarcerated people, prison administrators and self-help sponsors. It also features creative writing, poetry and artwork from the incarcerated general population.
“MindTap staff are committed to keeping readers well informed on everything from positive programming opportunities and education to significant changes and updates in the law,” said Gray “As it comes, we publicize it.”
The MOV team members provide more than just a newsletter. They participate in prison tours where they have a chance to talk to troubled youth, college students and the outside community visitors. The group also
sponsors programs such as in-cell relapse prevention workshops.
MOV members target high priority incarcerated people and provide them a
relapse prevention packet to work on. Due to COVID-19 and limited programming, in-cell workshops have been essential.
“That’s our goal here in the think tank—to reach out and help those in our community,” said MOV member Daniel Roman in his article. “What MOV has done for me.” What it has done is “To help people become self-aware and reach for the good in themselves.”
Gray added, “Through these efforts, we find comfort in knowing that we are helping others in their rehabilitation. The E=MindTap2 staff recognizes the hard work it takes to maintain a newsletter. But their mission is to inspire self-transformation and promote positivity within their “A” yard community and then, ultimately, the whole prison.
“This is what your (SQN) does,” said Gray. “I have noticed so many people in your paper I have known throughout the years. I’m proud of those people…(and their) path to self-transformation. SQN allows us to see…the change
in others who we knew to be someone else and it inspires change in ourselves.”
The new-fledged journalist thanks Calipatria’s administration, from the warden to the self-help sponsors, for their support and acknowledgment of the publication