Aug. 9, 2019

Letters For Parole Board

by Edwin J. Hutchison (author's profile)


July 15, 2019
To: Board of Parole Hearings Inmate Edwin Hutchison P68859
P.O. Box 4036 san Quentin State Prison
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036

To Whom It May Concern,

Beginning in November of 2018, I have spent each week with Mr. Hutchinson while serving as a volunteer for Project L.A. This group offers weekly workshops geared toward fostering its members' shard priority of establishing a stable lifestyle free of criminality upon release. Mr. Hutchinson is a Project L.A. fellow whose contributions are integral to the quality of the group's curriculum. After many months of witnessing his demeanor and dedication to encouraging positive change, not only personally but also in his cohorts, I confidently support his eligibility for parole.

In every meeting, Mr. Hutchinson's keen sense of self-awareness and sincere interest in others prominently stand out. His consistent focus on striving for improvements in both character and circumstance appears to serve as a useful model for younger members of the group. Most strikingly, never have I seen someone more proactively or thoroughly prepared for the future. Accompanying his presence each week is an accordion file neatly filled with employment options, letters of interest to possible employers, and established job offers. I do not doubt that Mr. Hutchinson's thoughtful attention to detail and skillful organization will be a desirable asset in many possible fields of employment.

When not immediately focused on ensuring the overall effectiveness of the workshops, Mr. Hutchinson and I have had the chance to converse more casually. THe deep religious faith and commitment to family that have motivated him during his incarceration will also be the guiding forces toward his success in any setting. I do not know the man that he was when he came into custody of the CDCR. From my perspective, the man that Mr. Hutchinson is today represents the ideal outcome of the rehabilitation process and would be a welcomed member of my community.

Anna Shoop

Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
State of California
Date: July 25, 2019

From: Anita Sufi, Educator SQSP
Regarding: Hutchison P68859

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Anita Sufi and I am a teacher at the Robert E. Burton Adult School (RBAS), San Quentin. I met Mr. Hutchison in 2016 when I started working in the main education building. I am an Adult Basic Education teacher and that is the capacity in which I met Mr. Hutchison.

I met Mr. Hutchison on the yard and talked with him about his faith and what programs he was involved in. Our conversations were about helping others and how faith can give us direction in struggling times. After a few conversations I asked if Mr. Hutchison would be interested in talking to my class about Islam. I was introducing religions in our social studies curriculum so I had several people come in and talk about their faith. Mr. Hutchison was very well spoken and was able to connect with students who had no knowledge of his faith. He was calm and compassionate toward my student.

I believe Mr. Hutchison is a great asset in seeing education within an incarcerated setting. His ability to be thoughtful and critical, concurrently, has shown him to be an important piece of the puzzle with reentry of the incarcerated and how inmates/students play a part in their own healing and change for the communities they return to. I strongly support Mr. Hutchison in being found suitable for parole.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at Ext 5043.

Thank you,
Anita Sufi

Date: JUNE 28, 2019
Subject letter of support of I/M E. Hutchinson P68859.

My name is officer S. MAGEE. I have been employed with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations for 25 years. I am currently assigned to the CHSB Mental Health Department on the second floor as an AD-SEG Escorting officer. During the course of my career, I have worked numerous positions at the prison. I have had the chance to engage in numerous conversations with Mr. Hutchison and they have always been pleasant and positive. Mr. Hutchison is very remorseful for the crimes he has committed and wishes he would have made better decisions to avoid his situation. I believe Hutchinson would be a valuable resource to his community and make a great candidate for people.

Thank you,

San Quentin adult school named 1st 'Distinguished School' in state corrections
Robert E. Burton Adult School wins out over 12 other schools at state prisons

By KERI BRENNER | | Marin Independent Journal
PUBLISHED: July 18, 2019 at 5:52 pm | UPDATED: July 19, 2019 at 6:22 am

For a correctional facility, San Quentin State Prison singularly - and some would say famously - sits on the bay with a view of Mt. Tam, houses the state's only condemned population and is California's oldest prison, established in 1852. It is also unique in another way.

As of this month, the adult school at San Quentin was named the state correctional system's first "Distinguished School." The Robert E. Burton Adult School at San Quentin was chosen for the award out of 12 prison adult schools that entered the competition.

"We're really proud of our education department," San Quentin Warden Ron Davis said Thursday during a tour of the school and an award ceremony. "It shows the rehabilitation culture of San Quentin. Everybody understands the importance of rehabilitation."

The state has 35 prisons in the system, all of which have their own adult schools that are each at various levels of development. Some of the keys to the San Quentin school's success, officials said, are a dual track for both academic learning and vocational training and a collaborative teacher team modal where each student's progress and education needs are identified and discussed by a group of teachers embedded in that specific program.

"It's a partnership with lots of players," school Principal Michael Wheeless said. "We're fortunate to have a lot of education volunteers and resources- it's hard to replicate." Of the current population of 4,320 incarcerated men, 1,180 are enrolled in some level of academic education or training. Of those, 379 are currently in college programs, including 30 condemned men.

All inmates are required to complete at least their high school education. Beyond that, they may take college classes via distance learning, leading to an associate's degree, or work toward certificates in machine shop, electronics, building maintenance, plumbing or computer literacy.

Ther prison offers incentives of up to six months off of their sentences for successfully completing various programs. If they choose not to go on with education past high school, they are sent back to their regular prison work detail, such as in the kitchen, in the laundry or on maintenance.

"Education is power," said Edwin "Zakee" Hutchinson, who has been at San Quentin since March 2009. "The more you know, the more you're expected to do better." Hutchinson, 59, of Los Angeles, successfully lobbied to be transferred to San Quentin because of its college degree program, he said. In 2016, he received his associate's degree in liberal arts through Patten University at San Quentin, part of the Prison University Project. He will be eligible to apply to a University of California campus or other four-year colleges when he is released. His "initial suitability" parole board hearing is in December.

"I want to get a bachelor's degree in sociology," Hutchinson said Thursday. "I'm a political and social activist. I want to work as a court-appointed juvenile advocate for at-risk youth so that I can help young people stay out of places like this."

Diane Searle, who teaches the high school equivalency, or G.E.D. program, at San Quentin, said education is the key for many men to build a new life once they are released - and so avoid returning to prison. Searle, a Marin resident, said she has worked at San Quentin for 12 years and has had 30 years education experience.

"I have taught at private schools, charter schools and public schools - a nd at the college level," said Searle, who was the lead teacher in developing San Quentin's collaborative team model - also known as a professional learning community. "I really feel that this has been the most rewarding experience.

"It's an overlooked population group. I have a real passion to see how they can have a positive impact in their communities (when they go home), rather than be discarded or overlooked," she added.

Of the "Distinguished School" award, Searle said: "The passion for education is contagious. The bar has been raised."

Shannon Swain, superintendent of the state's Office of Correctional Education, said the "Distinguished School" program, which is judged by a set of 10 rigorous criteria, is a way to continue to strive for excellence.

"It is our hope that the time they (incarcerated people) spend in our institutions can truly be transformative for them, " she said.

Trevor Bird, an inmate who has gone through multiple levels of training in the San Quentin machine shop over the last four years, now assists other men to become teaching assistants in the program. In 2016, he helped prison staff and contractors remodel the shop so it is now at a professional technical level where students can replicate machine parts at top quality. The shop has been assisting locally at various public agencies that may need emergency parts, according to Bir.

"I'm the question guy. I was the first guy to go through all the curriculum," he said. "And now I'm helping other guys."


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