PJP Writer Steve Brooks Wins Commentary/Analysis Award from the Society of Professional Journalists

February 3, 2021 — The Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ NorCal) selected Prison Journalism Project contributing writer Steve Brooks to receive a 2020 Excellence in Journalism award for his commentary and analysis, making him the first incarcerated writer to win an award in its print/text category. This is also the first journalism award for the Prison Journalism Project since we launched our publication in April 2020.

Steve was recognized for “The Hidden Heroes Forgotten Inside,” an article about the essential workers inside California’s San Quentin State Prison, where he lives, and “Violent Criminals Deserve Second Chances, Too,” an opinion piece arguing for prisoners with violent convictions to be vetted for early release in the pandemic based on age and their efforts to rehabilitate themselves.

“Most incarcerated people I’ve been around felt they didn’t have a story that mattered when they were in the outside world,” Steve told PJP in a written interview last year. “Writing helps people find their voice and tell their story and discover who they are as human beings… Every one of us shapes the world. We all shape society and history.”

Steve was one of PJP’s first writers, and he is also a contributing writer for San Quentin News, a newspaper published out of San Quentin. He recently completed two college degrees in liberal arts and social and behavioral sciences and plans to obtain a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Steve has also been published in the San Francisco Public Press, Street Spirit, All of Us or None and Voice of Witness. He has been incarcerated for 26 years.

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