A. Kevin Valvardi is an artist and writer who has been writing poetry since age nine. As a former member of San Quentin Prison’s Journalism Guild, he has written a number of articles for the San Quentin News. His poetry and stories have appeared in 580 Split, Unknown Sky, Iron City Magazine and several Brothers in Pen anthologies, including Pen Up, Don’t Shoot. His story “Collateral Damage” was selected for inclusion in “Live Law San Quentin: Hope,” an episode of the Life of the Law podcast series.
A. Raheem Ballard is from Buffalo, NY. Born in 1973, he relocated to California in the mid-80s, and currently resides in the Bay Area. From a young age, he was influenced by Hip Hop culture and reggae music. Eventually, his passion for self-expression would find its way into songs, poems, and thought-provoking essays. Although controversial at times, he possesses a subtle gift to convey experiences that allow readers to reflect on their own lives. A. Raheem Ballard writes with purpose—his voice is a reflection of our time. Write to A. Raheem at: V-53410, SQSP, 4-W-105, San Quentin, CA 94964. Promote: Academic Peer Education Project.
Adamu Chan is a writer and Bay Area native who was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in 2019 when this piece was written. He uses his perspective and experience as a formerly incarcerated person as a lens to focus the reader’s gaze on issues related to social justice. Adamu draws inspiration and energy from the work of James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, John Coltrane, and the arts movement of his time, Hip Hop.
Andrea Terry writes: “I’ve been exposed to a family filled with addiction. Growing up, it was so often, I thought it normal to experiment with substances, and as a child being abused made it easier for me to pick up what I was never meant to have. I’ve lost a major part of my life that I will never be able to get back but I can always create a future where I can finally right my wrongs. I thank God for every situation I’ve encountered because it’s strengthened me in ways that I’ve needed to survive my struggle. And I’m happy to say I have survived, and although I may continue to struggle it does get easier, and that’s exactly what I’m counting on. I am strong. I am safe. I am clean. I am me!”
April Harris is a 45-year old woman from Monterey, California. She is the proud mother of three grown children and grandmother to two. April has published articles in the Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Post. She is a licensed paralegal with a strong background knowledge in criminal justice, with a criminal law degree from Blackstone Career Institute. April has been incarcerated for twenty-five years. She currently resides at the California Institution for Women in Corona, California.
Chana L. Woods, from Detroit, MI, is the second of eight children, mother of three, and grandmother. Her children and she are like the sun and moon together. She seeks to renew her chance at freedom through poetry. Chana will be released from prison in November 2022. In the meantime, she would like to receive correspondence at: Chana Woods 977055, 3201 Bumis Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48197.
Corey Devon Arthur was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1977. He was awarded the Bronze award for his submission, “The Justice Money Dance” to the Capitalizing On Justice Art Exhibition. In 2020, Corey co-founded and launched DinArt Expressions on Instagram. It’s a showcase of his artwork. Corey served twice as the Inmate Liaison Committee Chair at Fishkill Correctional Facility. He’s a member of Empowerment Avenue, a writers’ collective with which he has published several essays for The Marshall Project and other outlets. He’s currently serving year 25 of a 25-to-life-year sentence for robbery and murder. Corey is an advocate for restorative and social justice. Instagram handle: @dinartexpressions.
Demetrius “Meech” A. Buckley is a poet and fiction writer. His work appears in the Michigan Quarterly Review, RHINO, Periphery, and The Marshall Project. He is also the 2020 winner of the Page Davidson Clayton Prize. Still in a level 5 maximum prison, he is working on his second book, First 48: The Fall of Winter Kings, a memoir. And most of all, he is thankful for the Empowerment Achievement program. Meech would like to support the Prison Abolition Initiative. His website: demetriusbuckley.com
Felix V. Sitthivong is an organizer and advisor for the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Awareness Group (APICAG). Through APICAG, Sitthivong has organized immigration, social justice, and youth outreach forums and has designed Asian American studies courses, an intersectional feminism 101 class, and an anti-domestic violence program. He was previously a GED tutor through Edmonds Community College. He has published in The Marshall Project, the Washington State Wire, Inquest, and the International Examiner. He is currently serving a 65-year sentence at the Stafford Creek Corrections Center. Please support our movement towards liberation at (do not donate funds, just sign and SHARE): https://chng.it/GfhrNW79Fn. Or: visit www.change.org (search “If It Is Broke, Fix It”). Created by: STAFFORD CREEK CORRECTIONAL CENTER CHAPTERS — APICAG, BPC-TEACH, NGC, AND NATIVE AMERICAN CIRCLE.
Ivan Skrblinski is the pen name of Juan Moreno Haines. In 2020, the PEN America Prison Writing Contest awarded him the Fielding A. Dawson Prize for fiction. The award included the PEN America/Edward Bunker Prize in Fiction and enrollment in the PEN America Writing Mentorship Program. That same year, he won a PEN America Writing for Justice Fellowship. The California News Publishers Association awarded him a first place prize for coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic fallout and a fifth-place prize for COVID-19 pandemic profiles published in 2020. Since 2015, he has been a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2017, the SPJ awarded him a Silver Heart for being a voice for the voiceless.
Jason S. Harmon is a principled, loving, and empathic person incarcerated for 15 years. They identify as nonbinary pansexual anti-racist, anti-patriarchal and anti-capitalist. An avid reader, writer, crafter and clown, they adore children, animals, nature, fitness and caring for others. They ask you reach out to them at Jason Harmon CDCR # AG2873, California Health Care Facility, P.O.Box 213040, Stockton, CA 95213. In anticipation of relocation please find Jason here: writeaprisoner.com
James Terry II: You got to love this guy. Born in 1964, in Évreux, France. Raised in a USAF military household in three countries by age nine. Non-profit organization fundraiser prior to incarceration, he has maintained his actual innocence for 22 years and counting on a 35-year (“Karen Hoax”) miscarriage of justice. Online, his Afrofuturistic science fiction short stories are at justice4jamesterry.wixsite.com/website. Overwhelm him with random acts of kindness, introductory letters. Individuals and non-governmental organizations are encouraged to write: James Terry II, 373986, Wisconsin Secure Program Facility, PO Box 1000, Boscobel, WI, 53805, USA. Please send me 200-word prompts, and I’ll mail back 1000 words or more short stories and go to justice4jamesterry.wixsite.com/website to learn of my 35-year miscarriage of justice and go to Amazon.com to buy my forthcoming novel, “Poor Richard Trilogy”.
Jesse Ayers, 42, is a writer, actor, comedian, rapper, and singer. Had he known he had all these talents, he admits he’d have led another life. He is grateful for life. To find more about Jesse, visit Humans of San Quentin: humansofsanquentin.org. Google: Jesse Ayers San Quentin. Support FreeRahsaan.com and Prison Renaissance (Prisonrenaissance.org/donate).
Kevin Cooper is a prolific artist, writer, orator, abolitionist, and human rights defender unjustly caged on San Quentin’s Death Row for 36 years. He was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1985. The case has a long history of police and prosecutorial misconduct (see https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/23/opinion/sunday/kevin-cooper-dna.html ), evidence tampering, and numerous constitutional violations including many incidences of the prosecution withholding evidence of innocence from the defense (known as Brady violations). He was three hours and 42 minutes from being executed in 2004, and thankfully got a stay at the last minute. Multiple sources including legal representatives, legal and human rights organizations, as well as books, radio, television, and podcasts affirm his innocence. He actively struggles for his freedom and complete exoneration. On May 28, 2021, Governor Newsom signed an executive order for an independent investigation into his case; https://freekevincooper.com/; Twitter: @FreeKCNOW; FB: @Freekevincooper. Kevin is a member of Amnesty International, Group 30, San Francisco and would like to promote its work: http://www.aigroup30.org/wp/posts/kevin-cooper/. Please also support Equal Justice Initiative (https://eji.org/about/).
Kevin D. Sawyer is an African American from San Francisco, California. Born in 1963, he has written numerous unpublished stories, memoirs, essays, poems and journals on incarceration and other subjects. His work has appeared in San Francisco Chronicle, 580 Split, Columbia Journalism Review, The Guardian, Harvard Journal of African American Policy, Brothers in Pen anthologies, Iron City Magazine, San Francisco Bay View, Street Spirit, The Pioneer, Humans of San Quentin, California Prison Focus, Oakland Post, American Prison Writing Archive, Filter Magazine, PEN America, Prison Journalism Project, UCLA Law Review, The News Station, Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, Wall City, El Tecolote and The Life of the Law. Sawyer is the associate editor for San Quentin News (sanquentinnews.com) and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He’s a 2019 PEN America Honorable Mention for Nonfiction, a 2016 recipient of The James Aronson Award for Community Journalism, and more. Prior to incarceration, Sawyer worked for 14 years in the telecommunications industry. He is a certified engineer and practiced in guitar and piano. He holds a BA from California State University, Hayward and is currently working on a novel. Write to: Kevin D. Sawyer, P-22673, San Quentin State Prison, I-W-08-L, San Quentin, CA 94974. Please support The San Quentin News and find more of Sawyer’s stories there.
Kunlyna Tauch is a Cambodian-American from Long Beach, California, currently based in Lancaster State Prison. Tauch is a journalist, writer, and poet with Empowerment Avenue. He has earned his associate’s degree from the College of the Redwoods’ Pelican Bay Scholars Program. He participates in a range of projects including the Pelican Bay UNLOCKED podcast, Anti-Recidivism Coalition classes, Dell’Arte’s Prison Arts Program and Hustle 2.0, an entrepreneurship program. He has bylines in Business Insider, The Marshall Project, Prism, Speculative Nonfiction, and CalMatters. Please support Empowerment Avenue, Arcata Zen Center, and The Pelican Bay Scholars program/College of the Redwoods.
Lamavis Comundoiwilla was born in Long Beach, CA, and raised in Compton. He started drawing in 1998, at the request of his parents, and later, in 2018, started painting while in prison. He says, “Art is when wisdom of life meets the divine, because it allows me to show the gift God gives.” His work has been featured at Derby University (2018, 2019); UCLA (2018); SFO (2018); Marin County Fair (first place winner, 2018); Public Policy Institute (2018), Marin County Court (2018), and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (2019). The author says, “Anyone who would like to help support me and my art or who would like to buy my art can contact me through my power of attorney: Lula Comundoiwilla, 10240 Banyon St., Alta Loma, CA 91737.” To support Equality Writing donate at prisonrenaissance.org/donatevolunteer.
Born in Brooklyn, Yves Marc-Antoine Rosemond (c/o Marc Rosemond 93A1985) was sent to live in Haiti when he was five. The move had a deep impact on him. At 17, he transferred to Springfield Garden High School where his passion for words peaked. He studied at St. John’s University, Queensborough Community College, and Queens College. Arrested at 26 by a legal system that played loose with his constitutional rights, he was given life. He catalogs the trauma as “Blueberry Muffin Uzis”; he writes poetry, draws and tries to avoid judging people for their worst mistakes. In a poetry workshop, Professor Gretchen Primack convinced him to attend SUNY Ulster Hudson Link College. Write to (JPay or Snail Mail): Marc Rosemond 93A1985, Shawangunk Correctional Facility PO Box 700 Wallkill, NY 12589. Please support: Vision International for Children, Inc., 120-126 N Main St Annex, New City NY 10956 (917-238-0892).
“My name is Rev. M. Seishin Cádiz, and I am a term-to-life inmate. I’ve served 30-plus years in prison. I’m Puerto Rican, 55 years old, and was ordained as a Soto Zen Buddhist priest in 2012. In CMC-East, I was a hospice volunteer for 15 years. Both Buddhism and my experience with hospice have altered my perception of many things. This is the path I walk…and I am grateful for all of it.” Write to: Rev. M. Seishin Cádiz, (E88912) CSP-SQ San Quentin, CA 94974.
Mark Stanley-Bey is an artist who has varied skill sets, such as watercolor, color pencil, lead pencil, and of course, stippling using ink. Mr. Bey has donated some of his artwork to charities like St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital; Taller Salud, a Puerto Rico–based organization that helps in rebuilding the country’s infrastructure; and NLADA, National Legal and Defenders Association, which is working toward social justice in the United States’ criminal legal system. Now, Mr. Bey has teamed with San Francisco Art Institute to create a piece that celebrates the 150 years the institute has been bringing art awareness to the Bay Area and throughout the country, as well as to artists all over the world. Stan-bey, as Mr. Bey likes to be addressed, is continuing his art even though he is still incarcerated and has been infected with COVID. That said, Stan-Bey has just finished a children’s book illustration of twenty-three pages+cover. He teamed up with a law student and wrote the story “Visiting Mom.”
“My name is Maurice Dupree Reed Jr. I am from Vallejo, CA. I facilitate crime and violence prevention programs at San Quentin. I am a college student, active member of Marin Shakespeare and Artistic Ensemble, and a member of First Watch, the only incarcerated film crew in the world. I would like for correspondence to be sent to me before April 2022: Maurice Reed, AE-1506, 3-W-80, San Quentin, CA 94974; and after April 2022 at: 845 Pennsylvania St., Vallejo, CA 94590. Please support No More Tears a violence- and crime-prevention program: www.nomoretearssq.com/. Artistic work and choreography can be found at the Artistic Ensemble: http://www.aesq.info/. Maurice’s performance at TEDx at San Quentin can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRqtqButtjE
Olethus Hill Jr. is a writer/poet and a native of Cleveland, Ohio, serving a 19-year sentence. He’s been writing for the past eight years, and is currently seeking his freedom while teaching himself how to write screenplays in the process. Mr. Hill welcomes correspondence: Olethus Hill, Jr., #A632-745, London CI, PO Box 69, London, OH 43140, United States.
Orlando Smith was born and raised in the greater Los Angeles area. Convicted of eight counts of armed robbery in 1997, and serving eight life sentences under California’s “Three Strikes” law, he believes California’s justice system is draconian and outdated. Orlando has created more than 65 unpublished graphic novels. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists, his work has been published in the Davis Vanguard, L.A. Times, and the Columbia Journalism Review. As an artist, Orlando has produced a protest poster series, and numerous projects for Prison Renaissance as well as for exhibitions at museums and universities across the United States. Please support my transition back into society by: #1, writing to Governor Gavin Newsom: c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814. #2, Signing and sharing Orlando’s petition to grant him commutation: change.org/freeorlandosmithcomicbookcreator.
Rahsaan “New York” Thomas is a co-host and co-producer of the Ear Hustle podcast and a contributing writer for Current, The Marshall Project, and San Quentin News. He was also chosen by The Marshall Project and the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program to produce and direct a short film. Additionally, he co-founded Prison Renaissance and co-created its Empowerment Avenue program. To support the work of incarcerated artists, go to PrisonRenaissance.org.
Ras Enoch Allen, born 1991, is from Los Angeles, CA, but relocated to San Francisco’s Bay Area in his youth. He has produced artwork for Decarcerate Alameda County and Care Not Cages, and he has current art installments, such as “The Comma Files,” on display in the Crenshaw Dairy Mart, and in the Liberated Arts Collective’s “How to Survive a Quarantine” zine. Allen, a Michellin Star chef, seeks to follow up with his second installment, “The Jenssen Files,” which conveys his incarcerated outlook during the pandemic; then, mix media artwork. Allen, a single father, is an advocate for restorative justice, music, and visual art. Correspond by snail mail (BLB526, 5325 Broder Blvd Dublin, CA 94568), Snapchat: Ticovision, Facebook/meta: Ras Allen, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find my work at “The Crenshaw Dairy Mart” under exhibits (“Care Not Cages”); or at “Liberated Arts Collective.”
Tony DeTrinidad: “My name is Roberto, but friends call me Tony. I’m 35 years on the Earth, and was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. I used to live a self-centered and self-destructive life that left some innocent people hurt and traumatized. So, now I use my time here on our planet working to ensure I never hurt anyone else again. My dream is to one day bring honor to the amazing people in my life who love me and keep me grounded.” Write to: Tony deTrinidad #BC1859, SQSP, San Quentin, CA 94974. Please support: YWCA USA: Women Empowerment Movement. (Being the largest provider in the USA with dedicated domestic and sexual violence services, they provide safe spaces/services for girls and women survivors of domestic and sexual violence through their crisis helpline, housing, counseling, job training and more).
Tony deTrinidad and Sascha Cruse: “The two of us became friends via correspondence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We came together to make this piece. It started out as a graff piece I made for her, and she took it, scanned it, and put her digital touch on it. I feel like the piece was a victory over the walls (both physical and otherwise) that prisons put between us.”
Ronald Gabriel, who is known by Gabe, is 70 years old and does real prison art—not art done in prison. He has been locked up since 1985, so his art is always about what people experience inside prison and what prison life is really like. Write to: Ronald “Gabe” Gabriel, D-45536, 4-37-L West Block, San Quentin, CA 94974.
Ryan M. Moser is a recovering addict from Philadelphia serving eight years in the Florida DOC for property crimes. Nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net 2020, he writes a regular column for The Wild Word. Ryan’s other publications include pieces in The Crime Report, Truthout, The Marshall Project, Mississippi Quarterly, Upstreet Literary Magazine, December, Muse Literary Journal, Evening Street Review, Storyteller, 2020 PEN America Anthology, Santa Fe Literary Review, Google News, Prison Journalism Project, Hear Us: Covid Collection, University of Iowa Prison Project, Progressive, and more. Ryan enjoys yoga, chess, and has two beautiful boys. To those interested in learning more about Ryan, visit The Prison Journalism Project, or send correspondence to: Ryan M. Moser, Everglades Correctional Institution, 1599 SW 187 Ave, Miami, FL 33194. Please support Empowerment Avenue, Exchange for Change, Black Lives Matter, and PEN America.
Torrey R. Thomas II is 24 years old and currently incarcerated in Valley State Prison, having been transferred between five locations in the past five years. As of now, he will be released in 2026. He’s been writing poetry for a year and a half now, and has grown ambitious with the craft. Torrey says, “Without poetry [he] wouldn’t know where [he] would be.” Torrey can be contacted at: Torrey Thomas, BH0610, VSP Bf-6-4up, P.O.Box 92, Chowchilla, CA 93610.
Traci Jackson is a writer from the Bay Area. A broken individual, who has finally begun to see that it’s okay to be vulnerable, even if her spelling is a little off at times. Correspond through JPay: Traci Jackson, AF1680.
Wesley Williams, 34, is a writer and poet incarcerated at Bare Hill Correctional Facility in New York. He is a member of Empowerment Avenue, a program where volunteer poets and writers workshop and publish incarcerated writers’ work.