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America's prisons are overcrowded, and some of them are known for having appalling conditions. Of course, going to prison isn't supposed to be a walk in the park, however, prisons should provide the tools inmates need to reform their lives. The San Quentin News is one of those tools.

According to the New York Times, the paper, run by inmates in one of California's most notorious prisons, was recently honored by the Society of Professional Journalists with a James Madison Freedom of Information Award for “accomplishing extraordinary journalism under extraordinary circumstances.”

Some of the topics the paper has covered include adequate mental heath care for prisoners on death row, hunger strikes, sports, and profiles on transgender inmates. What makes the paper so special is the fact that its staff is writing from a perspective that typical journalists do not have access to. These stories provide a window into the lives of inmates that most of us will never see—thankfully.

“The leading public health problem in prison is boredom. The San Quentin News is an operational antidepressant that keeps its participants structured and psychologically well organized,” Franklin E. Zimring, a law professor and criminologist at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Times.

The paper is distributed at 17 different prisons, though all content is reviewed by prison officials before being published. This prevents it from turning into a "rant rag." Students and faculty at the University of California, Berkeley help provide training and research assistance. Also, taxpayers don't have to worry about their hard-earned money being used to fund a newspaper run by criminals. The San Quentin News is funded by grants and donations. To make a donation, visit their website.

[via New York Times]