Tag: California Prisons

October 19, 2016 Article Published

When this article was published yesterday, I was a little bit distracted by other things to be able to talk about it.  Half of the newsroom is currently off in Washington DC for a conference, and my co-editor has been a bit under the weather as of late, so the rest of us who were still around had to work extra hard to get our issue with special third presidential debate coverage out for today.

However, with our last issue of the week out, giving me a bit of a break before our big weeklong political special issue production on Sunday, figure now is as good a time as ever to update my blog here with this new article.

Project Rebound is a program out of San Francisco State University that recently received a $500,000 grant from The Opportunity Institute, allowing it to spread out and open branches in seven CSU campuses – including Fullerton, naturally.  The program sets out to help previously incarcerated individuals who are looking to get a college degree, at the same time attempting to lower the prison recidivism rate in California (at 44.6 percent or so in the 2010 to 2011 fiscal year according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations) and beyond.

I found out about it from my professor, Dr. Jason Sexton, who also happens to be the editor of Boom magazine.  He’s an advisor for the program’s new branch, as I’m sure the push to do a California prison-themed issue of Boom helped bring some attention. The advisors for the program are there to help convey what resources are around that Rebound staff can point students to, though currently there are only two primary staff members on board.

Brady Heiner, Ph.D, is an assistant professor of Philosophy at CSUF and the Director of Rebound there.  Meanwhile, Romarilyn Ralston is the recently hired program coordinator for Rebound, and happens to be a previously incarcerated individual who sought out and college degrees herself.  In her own words, “An office like Project Rebound and staff that has prior incarceration histories who has walked the walk and accomplished what Rebound sets up to help their students achieve will be very helpful and supportive.”

The story honestly wound up being a behemoth at 1,600 words, since I couldn’t really figure out where to stop writing.  There was a heck of a lot of information to convey, and both Heiner and Ralston gave me tons of good quotes to incorporate.

Luckily we have an awesome Layout editor who was able to help set up the paper to fill that kind of extensive content.

If you want to see the story in its entirety, you can see it here.  You can also check out my whole archive of work for the Daily Titan through the link over on the right!

Some Fruits of my Research

I’m not sure I’ve talked about it here yet, but I’ve been working for close to a month now with Boom magazine, a journal of California (which you can check out here, I’d highly recommend you do) as an Editorial Assistant.  One professor I had over the Fall 2015 semester brought me along when he was invited to put together the next three or so issues, and I’ve been really grateful to have the extra work to keep me busy!  Mostly it’s been things that I’m pretty used to thanks to my newspaper experience: Researching information, fact checking and section editing academic essays, writing bios, that sort of thing.

However, one thing I’ve had to do with Boom that I’m not totally used to is image research.  With my journalism experience, most of the time getting an image boils down to asking the photo editor to get something that’ll relate to a particular story we might be running.  In this case, I’ve been asked to actually look around and try to find possible images that we could use to supplement the essays that are going in the magazine.

The upcoming issue that I’ve been working on is focused on the prison system in California.  Let me tell you, finding good images related to prisons that aren’t just pictures of drab prison architecture is a tough job.  Mostly I’ve been searching around for artwork done by prisoners, which have brought me some cool finds.  I figured I’d share one of them here, since I think it’s pretty worth looking at!

“Woman and Dragon” by Gabriel Ramirez, currently in Pelican Bay State Prison.  Image courtesy of artrelease.org

This piece, and most of this artist’s work at that, is not only really gorgeous to look at, it’s also a pretty impressive feat of creativity under restriction.  Ramirez is being held in a Security Housing Unit (SHU), which is essentially a really high security isolation containment used in California – Though I’d read more about it here, since I’m not necessarily an expert on the subject. SHU’s are one of the focuses of the piece I read that inspired me to go out and find this piece of artwork, and according to the site where I pulled it from, “The colors on these drawings were developed by scraping paper pulp out of old magazines. Utilizing a rolled up piece of toilet paper dipped in the pulp, the scrapings are transferred onto the drawing paper.”  Awesome to think about, if you ask me!

If you want to learn more about the California prison system in various facets through articles written by prominent figures in modern Californian writing, or if you want to potentially see more cool artwork done by prisoners, be sure to check out the next issue of Boom!  I personally don’t know when exactly it’s to be released yet because we’re still working on it, but I know it’ll be relatively soon, so I’ll keep you all updated on when you can get your hands on it.