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This article was first published by Mule Creek Post, a newspaper at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California. The article has been lightly edited to add clarity and conform with PJP style rules.

Community resource manager Lance Eshelman threw a curveball to the editors of the Mule Creek Post in October when he asked, “Can you guys do a journalism training course?” 

As the Post embarked on its fifth year of publishing this year with more than 48 editions published, the answer was simple: “Uh, I guess so. When do you need it?”

Eshelman and other Mule Creek administrators like Warden Patrick Covello had been discussing ways to better incorporate stories from other yards at Mule Creek State Prison and recruit and train reporters. 

The intent is to be able to provide journalism training to prospective reporters and writers, and potentially distribute recorded lessons to the other yards at Mule Creek, as well as other institutions. 

Mule Creek Post editors have been working on a lesson plan since its October meeting, developing the Incarcerated Journalists Training (IJT) course. The curriculum consists of 10 lessons and Rehabilitative Achievement Credits toward sentences are awarded to those who participate in the training. 

“IJT grads will learn everything they need to know to become qualified journalists,” said Post reporter Christopher Bryson. “They’ll even be able to submit material to outside newspapers and other mainstream media. Prison journalism is taking off right now. Stories from inside are just as worthy as anything out there. And who better to report on prison issues than prisoners?” 

Classes will be limited to 10 to 12 participants, and candidates must be discipline-free for at least 12 months to be eligible. 

“I believe this training is going to open up a whole new aspect to personal rehabilitation,” said Correctional Counselor E. Albertson, the class sponsor. “It builds self-esteem and shows what participants are capable of. There’s already been a lot of interest; I’ve got a list of prospective candidates two pages long.”

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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Dirk Brickman

Dirk Brickman is a staff reporter for Mule Creek Post at Mule Creek State Prison in California.