Illustration by O. Smith

Two years on, San Quentin has become, once again, less about rehabilitation and keeping humans safe, and more about packing incarcerated men into crowded spaces for revenue, despite an ongoing pandemic which has exploded into yet another outbreak.

The thing about the past is that it has a way of infringing on the present. There is absolutely no accountability for prison officials. If it’s true that to err is human and to forgive is divine, then the people who control our justice system and its prisons must be the “gods” they believe themselves to be. They accept no responsibility when it comes to their own error. This age of progressive hegemony, which is called “moral clarity” — it’s very one-sided.

All that is here are people with health problems and disabilities, most due to old age. The CDCR and White corporate media want the general society to believe we (the incarcerated) are a throw-away disorderly class of people, while through another lens hailing S.Q. as a flagship for other prisons across the state in its progressive status in rehabilitation.

Marin County Superior Judge Geoffrey M. Howard’s judgment was very short-sighted and wholly biased by not ordering relief for trauma and hardship of SQ’s population by simply single-celling humans for lack of ventilation inside housing units due to COVID-19 and 29 deaths.

It’s time to recenter the narrative. The real central question is whether the state has made any progress for the human rights of the incarcerated.

I am not trying to leave San Quentin horizontally.

Previous Columns
The Gruelling Report Issue 1
The Gruelling Report Issue 2
The Gruelling Report Issue 3
The Gruelling Report Issue 4
The Gruelling Report Issue 5

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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O. Smith

O. Smith is an illustrative journalist, graphic artist and comic book creator. He was born and raised in south central Los Angeles, and is serving a 250-year sentence under the Three Strikes Law at San Quentin State Prison.