A law school classmate of mine, Jessica Feinstein, wrote a moving essay for the Stanford Lawyer magazine reflecting on her visits to Soledad, first as a fourth grader studying California’s missions, and then years later as a law student visiting a client in prison for the Stanford Criminal Defense Clinic. An excerpt is available here, or you can download the full essay in PDF format. Here’s a brief quotation from her description of the Soledad Prison:
As far as I can tell, the Correctional Training Facility does very little correcting or training. Although the website speaks of vocational and academic programs, inmates serving indeterminate sentences like Alex are placed at the bottom of long wait lists for programs, even such basic rehab services as Narcotics Anonymous. The onetime single-inmate cell no longer exists, as the system strains under an entire population of men behind bars. In such a system, a sentence of 25 to life translates into wasting as few extraneous resources as possible: The state has already deemed such inmates beyond the reaches of rehabilitation.