Elena Mateus Humanities and Social Science
Perception of Prison with Experience: Volunteering for San Quentin News
If you turn on the television, chances are high that the news will be painted with violent criminals, Cops will be on all night, and Law and Order will be playing steady reruns. There is a plethora of scholarship investigating the ways media sensationalizes crime and portrays prison in a violent light; however, there exists a gap in research into understanding the ways in which people digest and make of use these images. People, whether they are affected by the criminal justice system or not, view fictitious media depictions that, in turn, inform their opinions about prison and criminality in reality. By interviewing people who volunteer at San Quentin News within San Quentin State Prison, my research attempts to answer the following question: in what ways do volunteers use their first-hand experience to understand media depictions of prison and criminality? My research is focused on San Quentin News volunteers’ meaning-making process on this subject in order to understand the ways that direct exposure can mediate reception of stereotype-laden media representations.