PODCASTING from PRISON - california sunday magazine

Profile of radio-makers inside san quentin

MOST DAYS, Rauch sits cross-legged in the same spot on the prison yard, what’s known as “hippie row.” From there, he draws and paints, holding pencils not in use between his toes. With a wispy beard and dreadlocks, Rauch — pronounced “Roach” —  has been described by prisoners as “Black Johnny Depp” and “the original Jesus.” But Rauch is also San Quentin’s unofficial veterinarian. He’s cared for injured finches, a paraplegic vole, and a black widow. He constructs habitats for them made of stacked Folgers cans and dirt in the corner of his cell. At least once, Rauch propped a tired bee on the back of his hand and fed it icing from a honey bun he bought at the canteen.

On a recent afternoon, in a concrete building inside the prison, three radio producers gathered around Rauch. One of them asked, “Rauch, have you ever cried when a critter died?”

“Uh, yeah,” he said, counting on his fingers. “A gopher, a mouse. The last gopher that died, I put him in the trash because I couldn’t dig. But I wrapped him up real tight with tape, so I knew that nothing could get on him. It’s like having a loved one die.” ...

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