Today we are excited to spotlight an amazing project: The San Quentin News, the newspaper of San Quentin State Prison; written by men serving time at California’s oldest and best known prison. As ‘the pulse of San Quentin’, the paper is only one of its kind in California and one of very few publications like this in the world, offering a unique voice to those who are all-too-often hidden away from the rest of society. The San Quentin News publishes 20 pages monthly and is distributed to a prison population of 11,500, as well as correctional officers and staff and the wider community. It’s not just for those in San Quentin either — the paper is distributed to 15 other state prisons, where it is considered a must-read by correctional officers and newspaper supporters.
Several articles about the inspiring project have been recently released. A New York Times article, “Inmates’* Newspaper Covers a World Behind San Quentin Walls”, offers an insight into the world of The San Quentin News, examining journalism at its most raw and poignant. Without access to cell phones or the internet, the writers are committed to “boots on the ground” journalism. As Juan Haines, the 56-year-old managing editor, explains. “It’s about being heard in a place that’s literally shut off from the world,” he said. “We can go right into the yard and get a quote about how inmates* are affected by policy decisions.” Washington Post?
We encourage our readers to take a look at the paper and share it with your wider community. As written in the LA Times article, Newspaper behind bars boasts compelling storytelling: for the writers and readers of San Quentin news, it’s an amazing reminder that life doesn’t end when people are locked up.
At Root & Rebound, we see first-hand how people, who have served time in prison and jail, struggle to find their voice and their place back in the community after they are released. The San Quentin News powerfully conveys the common humanity that inextricably connects all of us, through personal storytelling and intelligent journalism.
*Please note: Root & Rebound would like to reiterate the powerful message of a letter we posted a few months ago from the Center on Nu Leadership on Urban Solutions, which asks that others be mindful of the language we use when discussing the experiences of individuals who are currently or previously incarcerated. We encourage all to avoid terms such as “inmate”, “prisoner”, and other words or terms that in any way take away from the humanity of people who have been impacted by the criminal justice system.
– The R&R Team