By Leslie Ortiz and Eshita Seshadri
SACRAMENTO – California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) partnered with San Quentin News and publicly declared that an effective San Quentin News writer’s guild program at San Quentin State Prison will be brought to Folsom’s Women Facility (FWF).
“We support the value of bringing this program to FWF to teach the population important journalism skills that will enable them to share their unique challenges and rehabilitation experiences in a female institution with a wider audience,” Folsom State Prison and FWF Warden Rick Hill said.
The partnership will give incarcerated individuals at Folsom Women’s Facility access to journalism training, professional advancement opportunities, and mentoring services, with the intention of creating a newsroom staff at FWF that will frequently provide content for the San Quentin News.
“Providing positive emotional outlets, personal connection, and a feeling of community are integral to a person’s rehabilitation,” Hill said.
The participants will gain knowledge on necessary techniques needed to become journalists, learn AP style, and advance their writing skills. These skills that are taught by the program will help the participants construct well written and insightful stories.
Members of the Guild program celebrated the start of the program on Nov. 1.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how my words may promote social justice and inform those outside about the important issues facing incarcerated women,” FWF Writer’s Guild participant Virginia Cervantes said.
“Hearing the stories of success from members of the guild at San Quentin, specifically how the program makes them feel that they are getting their voice heard, has made me eager to join the guild at Folsom,” FWF Writer’s Guild Participant Mary Palomera noted.
The Folsom’s Women Facility will be directed by Lisa Armstrong, who is an award winning journalist and a journalism professor at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School, with support from current Berkeley graduate students, and the program will be sustained by the nonprofit Friends of San Quentin News.
“When I first entered prison, all I had was my past, with no future,” commented Jesse Vasquez, the former editor-in-chief of the newspaper and Director of Development for Friends. He added how vital the program was in changing his world perspective and helping him in his rehabilitation.
Utilizing a work force of 12-15 incarcerated individuals, San Quentin News has been made available worldwide and improved news accessibility for those who are incarcerated in the CDCR through state prisons and jail distribution.
Many graduated writers from the San Quentin News have published award-winning stories in well-known publications such as Associated Press, Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, and so on.
The Reva and David Logan Foundation along with the Friends of San Quentin News have funded external operations for the Newspaper.
“Kudos to San Quentin News for presenting a critical and transparent overview of the issues that affect incarcerated men and women, the recently released seeking a positive reentry and their families,” said Richard Logan, President of the Reva and David Logan Foundation,. Logan also expressed his hope that others will support them with their expansion.
Two-hundred and forty incarcerated women are housed by FWF, which is located in the northernmost facility. Here, they are also provided treatment for substance abuse, job training, along with rehabilitative and reentry programming.