At the end of April, the Prison University Project distributed gift bags to all of the nearly 3,900 people incarcerated at San Quentin. Each one was packed in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, filled with beef jerky, tuna fish, trail mix, a bar of soap, a small pad of paper, envelopes, stamps, pens (or pen fillers, for those in housing units where regular pens are not allowed), and three articles. We also included a letter that explained the package.
We received over 300 letters in response to the effort with a wide range of topics, from purely thank you messages to reports on conditions inside. All of them provide a window into the incarcerated experience during the COVID-19 crisis, and we feel they are important to share broadly. With permission, we are sharing a small sample of those letters below. We intend to post more in the near future.
Click through to read each letter in its entirety.