We used to sit and eat dinner at the same table in the chow hall. And one day I was just sitting in there and I just started shedding tears and I hoped nobody had seen me.
Douglas Collier is serving a life sentence inside San Quentin State Prison. For years he shared a 9’x4′ foot cell with his friend Tony Ogle, a fellow inmate. One day Tony couldn’t stop coughing. His arteries were clogged. Several months later, Tony died — one of the hundreds of inmates who die in California state prisons each year.
In this story, reported by Greg Eskridge, an inmate and journalist with the San Quentin Prison Report, Douglas tell us what it was like to witness, and come to terms with, his friend’s death.
Last Count was reported by Greg Eskridge and edited by Jess Engebretson with sound design and production by Jonathan Hirsch. Special thanks to the journalists with the San Quentin Prison Report and Lt. Sam Robinson and Larry Schneider with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for their production support. Our Post Production Editors are Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle and Rachael Cain. Danny Bringer of KQED in San Francisco was our engineer.
Music in this episode was composed and performed inside San Quentin State Prison by David Jassy and Jaspar Lee. Photographs by Greg Eskridge and Elisabeth Fall of fallfoto.com.
SUGGESTED LISTENING AND READING
- You can hear stories by Greg Eskridge and the journalists with the San Quentin Prison Report: http://kalw.org/post/san-quentin-prison-report-coping-death-inside
- Restorative Radio is a different sort of prison radio project, based in Kentucky: http://www.wnyc.org/story/calls-home-over-radio/
- Listen to an audio postcard by Restorative Radio — a message from Essie Manns to her incarcerated grandson: http://www.thirdcoastfestival.org/explore/feature/envision-yourself-being-a-free-man
- Or check out the Radio Diaries Project from within US prisons: http://www.radiodiaries.org/tag/prison-diaries/
- And take a peek into the golden age of prison radio with the Marshall Project: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2016/05/16/a-peek-at-the-golden-age-of-prison-radio#.GTMbjJfO
This episode of Life of the Law was funded in part by grants from the Open Society Foundations, the Law and Society Association, the Proteus Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the National Science Foundation.
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