For 27 years, I’ve lived the cruel reality that is incarceration. I’ve experienced the relentless hypervigilance it creates, the isolation, the feeling of being forgotten and not cared for.
I know that the “average American” rarely sees or hears authentic accounts of what I experience. This blindness/deafness to the toxicity of prison life—and of the policies that shape it—is pervasive, and sustained by much of mainstream corporate media, which is fed single-source information by the prisons themselves. The consequence is a twisted and out-of-context narrative about incarceration and incarcerated people.
I produce journalism aimed at unraveling these distorted portrayals to give readers a directly impacted vantage point. Since 2009, I’ve reported and assisted in the management of San Quentin News. In 2020, just prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, I began collaborating with Solitary Watch to report on the darkest expressions of our punishment system: solitary confinement, gross overcrowding, inadequate medical and mental health care, disenfranchisement, and more.
In the coming year, I’ll be leading the Ridgeway Reporting Project, an initiative to support the work of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated journalists to find and amplify under-reported realities happening behind the walls of U.S. jails and prisons.
In order to do this hard, but necessary work, people like me must be given the opportunity to contribute to the reporting and storytelling. And to accomplish this goal, it is critically important to increase financial support to Solitary Watch, a leading and longstanding challenger to the horror of American prison conditions, and the bane of mass incarceration.
In “Are Prisons Obsolete?” Angela Davis urges us “to do the work that will create more humane, habitable environments for people in prison without bolstering the permanence of the prison system.” This is the work that I am proud to do with Solitary Watch.
I hope you will join us.
Juan Moreno Haines
Senior Contributing Writer
p.s. Time is running out to have your donation matched, dollar-for-dollar, by NewsMatch, including your recurring donations throughout the year. Please give by midnight on December 31st!