Connecting prisoners at San Quentin to the world via Social Media

San Quentin State Prison may be one of the most infamous prisons. It’s home to some of the most hardened criminals around and is notorious for having a culture of violence. It’s moniker: “The Arena.” With all the infamy that comes out of San Quentin, also comes life experience. A group at San Quentin is working on a new program to connect prisoners to people outside of the prison, to give insight into their life and minds, and are using social media to do so.

I remember prior to the Internet, and social media, you could write to inmates and become “pen-pals” with them. You could ask questions, get information about prison life, and talk to them one-on-one through ongoing back and forth written letters. Times have changed, and for many inmates, social media is brand new to them.

The program is called the Last Mile, and consists of an inmate blog and a Twitter account. The inmates at San Quentin don’t have access to the Internet directly to answer questions, but through volunteers that pose questions to them through Twitter or their blog. The volunteers transcribe their responses back out via these social media channels. The inmates also use Quora, the question and answer site so that they can answer questions like this one.

The purpose of the program is to educate prisoners on social media and also introduce them into technology. San Quentin is only a stones throw away from San Francisco and Silicon Valley, which is the nation’s technology hub. Some may not agree with this program, and is a bit controversial. Nonetheless, it’s definitely an interesting program where you can really get an understanding of a prisoners mentality.

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