The Curious Case of the Prison Publishers
A fateful shooting boosts the career of a cub reporter and lands a young radical behind bars. A chance meeting decades later launches the unlikeliest of publishing partnerships.
Photo by Peter Merts
On a typical sunny day at San Quentin State Prison, twelve miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, California, large flocks of geese settle in the prison yard. The prison is an oddly peaceful place, surrounded by a cluster of residential houses where mothers push toddlers in strollers and people walk their dogs down to the nearby beach. William Drummond, a journalism professor at the University of California, Berkeley, visits at least once a week, but only to go to the small newsroom of San Quentin News, one of the few inmate-run publications in the country.
Drummond enters the main gate of the famed penitentiary and wends his way through the lower yard, past the men playing basketball. Many of the inmates greet him as he walks by, heading towards the education area where the newsroom is located. Drummond is sixty-nine, slender, with a firm head of grey hair, and looks perpetually bemused. It’s this reticent good humor that makes him popular with the …
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial