San Quentin and Warm Fuzzies

We know NPR editors are real softies. So on the same day where Governator Schwarzenegger has refused clemency to a San Quentin inmate scheduled to die imminently, they sent a reporter to prison therapy to counteract him. Except they were looking for righteousness in the wrong place.


“Now, put your hand on your heart and on your stomach,” a soothing male voice can be heard saying over the clanking of prison utensils, “and say, ‘I’m safe. I’m here.'” A chorus of burly voices does as instructed.

The journalistic point seemed to be a counterweight to the soon-to-be-carried-out death sentence of one Donald Beardslee, who slew two women in 1981, and who will probably not live through the week. Doing its best to portray San Quentin – one of the most locked-down facilities in the country – as a place where even the most hardened criminal could be rehabilitated, NPR interviewed volunteers from the weekly group therapy session, all of whom were convicted of violent felonies. A facilitator from the Association of Humanities Psychology described the program as “a success.”

Fishbowl agrees that rehabilitation is better than death, but why not send that same reporter to the great state of Texas, where over fifty times as many people are put to death annually, rather than doing your level best to make Schwarzenegger look bad? This was an easy target. Go for the hard one next time, and peek into prisons nobody can even remember, such as Brazoria, Hays County, and Childress, Texas.

Where?

Exactly our point.