For decades, the stigma surrounding felony convictions and incarceration has permeated the lives of formerly incarcerated individuals. Investigative stories about poor jail conditions and solitary confinement have revealed shocking truths about the quality of life that inmates face. And in the past several months, thousands of inmates in California have been risking their lives to fight the state’s wildfires for little compensation — something The Daily Californian’s editorial board calls “modern-day slavery.”
But more and more, people are refusing to be silent on these issues. Changes are being demanded, right here in Alameda County. This year, several former inmates of Santa Rita Jail filed lawsuits, alleging mistreatment of pregnant female inmates and emotional and physical abuse. And in the UC Berkeley Underground Scholars Program, formerly incarcerated students are confronting social norms and establishing a “prison-to-school pipeline” through recruitment, retention and advocacy.
This issue of the Daily Cal is devoted to exposing these injustices. From important “prison-to-school pipelines” to problematic representations of individuals in the justice system, our stories aim to feature important voices and challenge those who exploit them.