Acclaimed San Quentin Writers’ Program Arrives at Folsom Women’s Facility
By CN personnel
SACRAMENTO â The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and Friends of San Quentin News announced they are bringing the successful San Quentin News Writers’ Guild program to State Prison from San Quentin (SQ) to the Folsom Women’s Facility (FWF). This unique partnership will provide the FWF with journalism training, professional development and mentorship, with the goal of establishing an editorial team at the FWF who will regularly contribute content to the San Quentin News.
âProviding positive emotional outlets, personal connections and a sense of community belonging are integral to a person’s rehabilitation,â said Folsom State Prison and FWF Director Rick Hill. âWe support the value of bringing this program to the FWF to teach the population important journalism skills that will enable them to share their unique challenges and experiences of rehabilitation in a women’s institution with a wider audience. “
An initial group of 10 FWF participants will complete a 26-week journalism training program led by external advisers and volunteers. They will acquire the essential skills needed to become a journalist, including interviewing and research skills, learning the AP style, and developing writing skills, which will guide them all in producing thought-provoking news articles and informative. Guild participants celebrated the launch of the program on November 1.
âHearing the success stories of the San Quentin Guild members, especially how the program makes them feel like they have their voices heard, made me want to join the Folsom Guild,â said Mary Palomera, participant in the FWF Writer’s Guild.
âI can’t wait to see how my words can promote social justice and educate outsiders about the important issues facing women in prison,â said Virginia Cervantes, FWF Writers Guild participant.
The FWF Writers Guild Program will be supported by the Friends of San Quentin News nonprofit and led by Lisa Armstrong, award-winning journalist and professor at the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, with the help from current and recent Berkeley graduate students.
âWe are delighted to introduce the San Quentin Transformative Journalism Guild to the folks at Folsom Women’s Facility,â said Jesse Vasquez, Friends of San Quentin News development director and former editor of the newspaper. âWhen I first entered prison, all I had was my past, with no future. The guild has helped me see the world from a completely different perspective and develop my own path to rehabilitation. I can’t wait to see the impact the women of Folsom will have through the program.
Currently, San Quentin News has a staff of 12 to 15 incarcerated people, assisted by professional counselors and volunteers, who work together to produce the monthly newspaper. San Quentin News is made accessible to some 100,000 people incarcerated in the CDCR through distribution to 36 prisons in the state of California and some prisons in California. It is also ready in print and online by justice system stakeholders, donors, and concerned citizens in the United States and around the world. To date, there is a zero percent recidivism rate among graduates of the program. San Quentin News editors have also used their journalism skills to publish articles and editorials in the Washington Post, Sacramento Bee, Vice, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Dozens of writers have graduated from the San Quentin News Journalism Guild program over the past 10+ years and have since produced hundreds of articles published in the journal. Instructors included award-winning journalists from major publications including the Associated Press, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal.
The newspaper’s printing, distribution and external operations are funded by charities. Above all, the Reva and David Logan Foundation generously supports the efforts of San Quentin News and the Friends of San Quentin News to raise the voices of incarcerated people.
“. This information is vital for anyone who cares about the future of our company, âcommented Richard Logan, President of the Reva Foundation and David Logan. âFolsom’s new program is a key part of San Quentin News’ strategic expansion. Our hope is that many other foundations, companies and individuals recognize the importance of their work and join us in supporting it.
Under the administration of Folsom State Prison, the FWF was activated in January 2013 and currently houses around 240 female prisoners. The stand-alone facility with 523 beds provides housing, rehabilitation and reintegration programs, drug addiction treatment and vocational training to the medium and minimum security female population. FWF is the state’s most northerly institution for women, allowing women offenders to maintain closer ties with their families and loved ones in the area.