California Considering Sale of San Quentin
The inmates are opposed to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal to consider selling San Quentin to earn money for the state.
They live two inmates to a 4-by-9-foot cell. And it's fine with them. Why? The opportunities for learning and rehabilitation.
One inmate says:
"Some places you go for punishment," said inmate John Taylor, a catcher for the prison baseball team, the San Quentin Giants. "Here, it's more rehabilitation. I just don't know why the governor would want to shut us down."
Taylor's job at the prison: cutting weeds. He says:
"This is the first place visitors see when they come in," he said. "We want it to look good."
What's so great about the opportunities at San Quentin? It's proximity to San Francisco.
Prison volunteers come from around the Bay Area and include professional artists, graduate students and professors at nearby universities, including the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco State University. Others are retirees. Most are experienced teachers in their field.
As another inmate, who like Taylor, is serving up to a life sentence, says:
The prison is unique," said Vinny Nguyen, 31, who is serving 25 years to life for murder. "We're surrounded by a lot of universities, and we get a lot of help and contact from the outside. It makes us want to be positive. That would all be destroyed along with San Quentin."
Arnie needs to rethink this. While the death penalty unit needs to be replaced, and $356 million has been budgeted for the new Camp Death, the prison holds 4,700 other inmates who will be released one day. Isn't it better that they learn some educational, technical and interpersonal skills that will help them when they get out? Isn't that in all of California's best interest?
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