San Quentin News veteran Joe Garcia helped launch the Prison Journalism Project, serving in an advisory role as one of two inside editorial associates. He’s also been contributing regular news dispatches and personal essays about San Quentin’s COVID outbreak, even while recovering from the illness himself.
Few writers on our site have rendered the texture of prison life in quite like Joe. He has an ear for dialogue, and his pieces come alive with voices, including his own. You can even hear him speak in his multimedia dispatch from San Quentin in collaboration with formerly incarcerated multimedia producer Christopher Etienne. Joe is a compelling narrator who offers unique, even sideways perspectives on the world around him. He has given outside readers advice on coping with the lockdown, explained why getting a negative COVID test is a bad thing and questioned the unwritten rules of prison playbook about sexuality.
“I recently was overheard describing our community as accepting of the influx of LGBTQIA+ individuals,” he wrote in his Pride in Prison story. “A fellow prisoner nearby quickly retorted, ‘We don’t accept them, we just tolerate them.’ I would argue the reality is that tolerance begets acceptance. More and more, I see everyone treating one another as they should and accepting the fact that we’re all fundamentally more alike than we are dissimilar.”