For many of his 30-plus years in the journalism business, Jesse Katz has been covering crime. Back in the early 1990s, his former employer The Los Angeles Times assigned him to the gang beat, and it’s a topic he’s been pursuing in some fashion ever since. Back then, he immersed himself in the Los Angeles underworld at a time when black men were being incarcerated at record numbers, which naturally whisked him into the California penal system. Now a freelancer, Katz still finds himself drawn to “cultures populated by outsiders,” and the U.S. prison system remains fertile ground for such groups.
Katz traces his San Quentin piece to a story he reported last year for California Sunday Magazine about Hangover producer Scott Budnick, who quit a lucrative Hollywood career to devote himself to prison reform and juvenile justice. Through that, Katz ventured inside the Northern California prison for the first time. There he learned about the San Quentin Marathon, an annual race run inside the walls by a group of … Read More