The infamous state prison on San Francisco Bay that has been home to the largest death row population in the United States will be transformed into a lockup where less-dangerous prisoners will receive education, training and rehabilitation, under a new plan from California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The facility will be renamed the San Quentin Rehabilitation Center and the more than 500 inmates serving prison sentences there will be moved elsewhere in the California penitentiary system. The prison houses some 2,000 other inmates on lesser sentences.
I am an ex-convict. I spent time in San Quentin and others prisons and jails. Prison reform is a thing everyone that’s done time and most folks that have loved ones incarcerated have long called for.
Convicts are often cruel, mis-formed with stunted psyche. Too often we were unrepentant and as angry upon release as going in. There are also folks inside that have been victimized by a society that still will not recognize they exist and grant them a rightful place.
In a prison you learn and hone skills that ensures your survival there. Many join gangs, some submit, some connive and a very few, a very very few, use that time as an opportunity to learn.
40 some odd years ago I was a heavily addicted scourge of society and in and out of jails and prison. I deserved to be there and quiet as it’s kept probably deserved more time than I was sentenced to.
But the thing is there were social workers, judges in drug courts, work release employers, therapists and even jailers and correctional officers saw something redeemable in me when even I couldn’t. My experience was atypical.
There was always someone holding out a hand.
When I was locked up, a long time ago admittedly, cons in Quentin were mostly black and Latino young adults. A prison sentence meant a lifetime of limits and underachievement and mostly no one cared about your future.
I hope this changes the equation for even a few.
One line struck me as the most important from the article.
A group made up public safety experts, crime victims and formerly incarcerated people will advise the state on the transformation. Newsom is allocating $20 million to launch the plan.
Convicts caused pain in folks life and it’s often irreparable and they, the victims, will be heard.
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