There’s an award winning newspaper at the San Quentin State Penitentiary in Marin County, CA. The San Quentin News is a monthly 20 page periodical written by inmates. The SQN was awarded a prize by the Society of Professional Journalists for the paper’s “invaluable public service, not just to fellow prisoners but to the general public at large.” This is due to the paper’s focus on covering positive success stories of current and former inmates.
One especially popular advice piece covered how incarcerated parents could stay connected with their kids. Editor and inmate Juan Haines comments, “We recognize that we are inmates, felons, convicted criminals and are being punished and isolated form society under the law… (the positive thrust) keeps us on the right track, because talking about the administration typically ends up being a negative story, while talking about what we do is positive. It’s different than mainstream media. But why not tell our positive stories in a place so dank?”
This story caught my attention because many stories having to do with prisons focus on violence. The prison system in the US is clearly broken and expensive, averaging $31,307 a year per inmate according to a study The Price of Prisons. Also, rehabilitation of inmates often seems to be an after thought. Convicts often find it difficult to find gainful employment with a felony charge and few skills. The SQN is an example of a prison trying to give inmates purpose and useful skills. This is a small successful step that speaks to the need for prison reform.
Any comments or ideas on how prisons in the US should be changed?
Read the article here on the Columbia Journalism Review: http://www.cjr.org/behind_the_news/the_san_quentin_news_seeks_to.php