The revival of the News last year, after a hiatus of nearly two
decades, goes against a national trend of shrinking prison journalism,
said James McGrath Morris, who wrote about the penal press in his book
"San Quentin is sort of like a flower coming up in a barren garden," he said.
Rudy Luna, the program sponsor, said it is not clear why the San
Quentin News quit publishing, but the impetus to restart it last year
came from then-Warden Robert Ayers. The plan was to teach inmates
skills and keep the community informed.
"A lot of the issues with
inmates are just lack of information and by putting that information
out and telling them we have programs available, maybe we can bring
them on board," said Luna.
Being an inmate reporter means unique
challenges no direct access to the Internet, no ability to make a
quick phone call or send an e-mail. It also means having thousands of
potential critics living right next to you.