Outbreak at San Quentin

July 23, 2020
Three men wearing masks behind the San Quentin Prison building. Inmates’ silhouettes are in the distance.

Team Snap brings you the story of the devastating COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin State Prison, as told by people on the inside. 


Outbreak at San Quentin

As the Coronavirus outbreak overwhelms San Quentin State Prison, one incarcerated person, Chanthon Bun, is awaiting his release on parole. Bun tries to protect himself from the virus, while incarcerated first responders and cleaning crews attempt to treat those who are collapsing and stop the spread of COVID-19. In this episode, we hear first-hand accounts from incarcerated people inside San Quentin trying to survive the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

This story contains graphic content, listener discretion is advised.

At the time of this recording, 13 people from San Quentin have died due to coronavirus, bringing the total number of lives lost in California prisons to 40. Our hearts go out to them and theirs, sincerely.

Find out how you can support people on the inside with care packages and more at Prison University Project

Chanthon Bun is a producer now living on the outside. Greg Eskridge and Thanh Tran are both multimedia journalists currently incarcerated at San Quentin. Checkout Uncuffed and First Watch for more of their work. Rasheed Lockheart, who narrated this piece, works with Planting Justice, a food and social justice organization empowering those impacted by incarceration. Many thanks to Ant, Eric Phillips, and Alex Simon for sharing their stories from the inside as well. 

Special thanks to James King from the Ella Baker Center and Adnan Khan from Restore Justice

Produced by Pat Mesiti-Miller and Ninna Gaensler-Debs

Original score by Pat Mesiti-Miller

Artwork by Teo Ducot

Letters from Uncuffed

While people inside San Quentin and other detention facilities across the country are faced with the threat of coronavirus, it is not just them who are affected. This piece is made up of a collection of letters from people on the outside trying to reach their loved ones currently behind bars. 

Big thanks to everyone who shared their letters, Rasheed Lockheart, Shelly Ammons, Dario Abramskiehn, Jovina Vejar.

The letters came to us from Uncuffed, a storytelling project made by people behind bars, from inside San Quentin State Prison and Solano State Prison, in collaboration with KALW. Listen & subscribe on your favorite podcast player!

Produced by Ninna Gaensler-Debs, Gabe Grabin, Angela Johnston, and Eli Wirtschafter. 

San Quentin Mixtapes Vol. 1 – “Same Prison As My Grandfather”

The San Quentin Mixtape is a music project recorded, produced, and performed by incarcerated people inside San Quentin State Prison. 

The song featured in this episode is “Same Prison As My Grandfather” by Dinero G. Thank you Dinero G and David Jassy for sharing your music with us! 

This song comes from the album San Quentin Mixtapes, Vol. 1. It was produced by the now formerly incarcerated, David Jassy, who has since been released and is now living in his home country of Sweden.  

Season 11 – Episode 24

Producer Credit: Pat Mesiti-Miller and Ninna Gaensler-Debs
Original Score: 
Pat Mesiti-Miller
Teo Ducot

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