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Voices from Inside: Transfers from California Institution for Men

By Mount Tamalpais College | July 9, 2020

At the end of April, the Prison University Project distributed gift bags to all of the nearly 3,900 people incarcerated at San Quentin. Each one was packed in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, filled with beef jerky, tuna fish, trail mix, a bar of soap, a small pad of paper, envelopes, stamps, pens (or pen fillers, for those in housing units where regular pens are not allowed), and three articles. We also included a letter that explained the package.

We received over 300 letters in response to the effort with a wide range of topics, from purely thank you messages to reports on conditions inside. More recently we have also heard from many of the people who were transferred to San Quentin from the California Institution for Men just a few weeks ago, as part of the Department’s ill-fated attempt to protect them from the current outbreak there. Thanks to the support of San Quentin staff, we were also able to get packages to them.

With permission, we are sharing a small sample of those letters below. We intend to post more in the near future. Additional letters from San Quentin residents are available here.

Click through to read each letter in its entirety.

Please note that the Prison University Project became Mount Tamalpais College in September 2020.

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It's been a rough few weeks in terms of media layoffs so I want to flag a job I'm helping hire for: @prisonjourn, which trains incarcerated people as journalists and helps them get published, is hiring a managing editor to run all of its editorial strategy https://prisonjournalismproject.org/job-posting-managing-editor/

Teaching @StanfordLaw students alongside incarcerated students at @MtTamCollege in #SanQuentin was a highlight of the year—with hopefully more to come!

A fascinating glimpse at the history of higher education at San Quentin! While many hurdles still exist when running a college with a prison as its campus, at least we no longer have to "copy, stencil, and mimeograph" course materials to bring them inside.