(Part 2 of 2 parts)
With the exception of suggestions for revising the cumbersome procedure for ordering materials and supplies, longtime hobby participant and artisan Renny Norelli feels that there is no reason to change the way the hobby program is managed. The in-cell program is a “proving ground for the hobby managers to observe and see what the new participants are capable of, and how much desire the inmate has for his chosen hobby.” The in-cell program has always gone hand-in-hand with the shop program. Inmates must progressively work towards the privilege of having a station in the main shop. Norelli suggests that without the in-cell program, the hobby manager will have to rely on guesswork when determining who is permitted a permanent station in the main shop.
Hobby regulations state that the program is available to all eligible inmates. In San Quentin, inmates of the General Population and Condemned Row are the only prisoners eligible. Condemned row is restricted to in-cell hobby participation; they are not currently permitted access to the Hobby Shop.
On March 16, 2009, former Warden Wong issued a revised Handicraft Operational Procedure. Setting aside 70 years of history, the new procedure reduced the in-cell hobby program to a degree equivalent to that found in level IV (the most restrictive) institutions. Currently, efforts are underway to submit changes to the warden’s office. “I am looking at other institutions and their hobby programs for comparison,” says North Block Captain H. Foss. “This current Operational Procedure does seem a bit restrictive.” [Per regulations, Institutional Operational Procedures permit annual revisions.]
Foss, a departmental veteran with experience in institutions such as Level IV Pelican Bay, understands the benefits of inmates utilizing free time in a productive manner. “The hobby program,” he says, “keeps men busy.” According to departmental veterans, inmate idle time tends to lead to negative behavior.
The San Quentin of today is both a relic of the past and a stanchion of the future of rehabilitative activity in California. With its roots dating back to 1852 and the dank, musty hold of a ship moored in the harbor, the place is much more that just a prison—it is an icon, a symbol of what has come before, and a lighthouse illuminating the future. Just as when Duffy took the first bold steps towards a modern, more effective approach to corrections, San Quentin maintains the tradition of being at the vanguard of California’s rehabilitation movement.
Duffy knew that in order to have both a safer environment, and an institution that provided actual rehabilitation, he needed to have a system of positive incentives to go along with the plethora of punishments. However, Duffy was a wise man, and knew not to confuse fairness with softness. He remained warden for a little over 11 years, but his legacy persists to this day.
As it turns out, the hobby program grew into the model replicated throughout the rest of California’s prisons. Unfortunately, San Quentin now is one of only two operational hobby shops in the state. With the exception of women’s prisons, Deuel Vocational Institute (DVI) operates the only other shop. Several other institutions have limited in-cell programs allowing men to paint, assemble pre-cut models, do beadwork and other, non-tool oriented handicrafts.
If nothing else, one can walk through the doors of the Hobby Shop and perhaps see the shade of Warden Duffy maintaining a watchful eye over his creation.
California State Prison-San Quentin Operational Procedure SQP-101050-2, March 2009.
Time Magazine, inc., CALIFORNIA: Mister San Quentin, Monday, January. 1952.
(Part 2 of 2 parts)