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Humor As Medicine: Aging And Compassion In Prison

Photo of Cooper
ForwardThis Productions
Gary Cooper, 73, at San Quentin State Prison, has applied unsuccessfully for compassionate release.

California's prison population is aging. Between 2000 and 2017, the share of incarcerated people over 50 has more than quintupled. For those with long or life sentences, watching friends aging and getting sick behind bars is a harsh reminder of what a life sentence can really mean.

Today on Uncuffed, the story of someone who deals with his many ailments with the help of compassionate caretakers, and a good dose of humor.

Humor is, for real, medicine in here...prison is the darkest place I've ever been in in my life, next to juvenile hall, of course. There's so much suffering in here that to be able to laugh is like a superpower.
Thanh Tran

This piece was brought to you from the team at Uncuffed. Our work in prisons is supported by the California Arts Council and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The producers fact-check content to the best of their ability. Content is approved by an information officer.

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Learn more, and DONATE during our emergency fundraiser: www.WeAreUncuffed.org.

Uncuffed From The Producers Of Uncuffed
Thanh Tran is a media-maker and journalist, raised in South Sacramento. Thanh left San Quentin in 2022, is a Senior Policy and Communications Fellow with the Ella Baker Center, and an Advisory Board member for Uncuffed.<br/>
Producer for Uncuffed at San Quentin Radio
Thomas "Shakur" Ross is a producer of KALW's Uncuffed, presenting stories that show the humanity of incarcerated people.
Edmond Richardson is a producer with KALW's Uncuffed.
Stories from inside California prisons