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IPFS News Link • Criminal Justice System

San Quentin Prison is Using a Scandinavian Model of Rehabilitation to Turn Ex-Cons...

•, By Andy Corbley

San Quentin State Penitentiary, one of the most notorious and harsh prisons in the US, is the stage for a radical new method of treating the incarcerated population; new for America that is.

That's because SQ has adopted Scandinavian methods of rehabilitation that aim to protect the California public by turning convicts into neighbors.

Whether one believes prison should serve as a punishment or as enforced rehab, the reality of the matter is that most inmates will eventually rejoin society. In fact, 30,000 prisoners re-enter society every year in California alone.

The question as Governor Gavin Newsom saw it, was what kind of people does one want rejoining their society from incarceration?

As a statement, "Little Scandinavia," a project to turn prisons into places that allow criminals the opportunity to turn themselves into good neighbors, isn't taking place in some small out-of-the-way penitentiary where a policy trial could be closely studied without impacting the state prison bureaucracy, but in the biggest, baddest, and saddest prison in the state.

Opened in July 1852, San Quentin is the oldest prison in California. SQ's death row for male inmates is the only one in the state, and the largest in the US where until Newsom's tenure, it was equipped with a gas chamber. Charles Manson, along with dozens of other notorious criminals were housed there.