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Green jobs fair at San Quentin State Prison. Courtesy of Kirk Crippens.

KALW Informant, a great quality news-site on criminal justice in the San Francisco Bay Area is asking the tough questions – The state could release 40,000 inmates soon. Where will they work? (Rina Palta, November 19, 2010) Palta has answers for readers too. The green economy.

I talked about the common sense behind green jobs for paroled and released prisoners in December 2008. Van Jones (yup, the guy hounded out of the Obama administration by the right-wing media crying Commie) posited before the nation’s economy tanked that social justice and environmental justice had common solutions. He was and remains right.

Palta highlights the mutual benefit for the tens of thousands of released prisoners and the State of California in a progressive, state-sponsored jobs programs and the expansion of the renewable energy industry. San Quentin Prison held a ‘Green Jobs Fair’ in August 2010.

Unfortunately, getting support for govt. stimulus is, these days, difficult politically; taxpayers may balk at the idea of putting taxpayer dollars toward work for felons.

However, unexpected or unpalatable for some CA residents, it would be wise to support former prisoners. It’ll save communities and save future DoC costs. California may be about to release 40,000 inmates based on a 2009 federal judicial ruling (the State of California has taken the case to the Supreme Court for appeal). That’s a lot of working age men with gaps in their skills and working histories. Train them.

Ernest Morgan, an inmate since 1987, holds his prison-approved CD player. Photo: Jon Snyder/

My friend and colleague Matt Shechmeister at Wired’s Raw File just published Life on Lockdown: See-Through Gadgets, DIY Media, No Internet, an article and gallery on idiosyncratic prison technologies.

Matt went to San Quentin Prison with photographer Jon Snyder (@jonsnyder) to tour cells and music studios to report on the see-through typewriters, prison-sanctioned music selections and contracted companies all shaping the security-minded tech-culture at San Quentin.

Not an angle seen or read very often. Well worth checking out.

Last week, I sent this clip over to Brendan Seibel who knows a thing or two about punk, rock and Bay Area discontent.

In return, Brendan sent this clip describing it as “one of those what-the-f#@k moments when San Francisco was cool.”

Just thought you should know.


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