Jefferson Award Winner Helps Inmates Produce PodcastBy Sharon Chin

SAN QUENTIN (KPIX 5)  This summer, we’ll hear some rare details about life inside San Quentin State Prison, from the inmates themselves. This week’s Jefferson Award winner is helping inmates produce the first podcast from inside a prison.

Nigel Poor helps inmates share their stories in San Quentin’s media lab.

“It was a really powerful way for the men to be able to talk about their own experience through their own voice,” she explained.

Poor launched a podcast last year with inmates Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams. It’s called “Ear Hustle” — prison slang for “eavesdropping.” The photography professor volunteers three days a week producing prison interviews alongside the men on topics like “the first day in prison” and “living with HIV.”

Co-host Earlonne Woods is serving a long sentence for a robbery-related crime. He says the project means a lot.

“‘Misguided Loyalty’ was about a guy that grew up like I grew up in gangs, and how certain decisions in his life had to a catastrophic effect on his family,” he recalled.

And the team was thrilled to win an international contest to broadcast “Ear Hustle” on Radiotopia‘s online network starting in June.

“I enjoy the fact that we’re able to get beyond these walls, that our voices are able to be heard,” Woods added.

San Quentin’s Lt. Samuel Robinson must approve the content before air. He says Poor inspires the men’s creativity and confidence in production skills that could one day lead to a job.

“She’s really, really, really, really helping people elevate themselves from a place to a place that many of them wouldn’t even imagine was even possible for them,” he said.

And while the men’s victims and others may not support the project, Poor says she hopes people will hear their stories and see them with more understanding.

“People inside prison can be productive citizens just like anybody else.”

So for helping San Quentin inmates share their experiences, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Nigel Poor.


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