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Reformed Convict Tells of Prison Experience

May 10, 2007
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by Philip Martin, The Paly Voice

excerpt:

Eddy Zheng, a former felon from San Quentin Penitentiary, who was recently featured in the most recent edition of Verde, spoke to Paly students last Friday about his transformation in prison.

Zheng, who spent nearly 20 years in prison for kidnap and robbery, is now an educated poet with a GED credential and associate of arts degree. Even facing impending deportation to China, Zheng says he is still fighting to claim his rightful place in America.

After going to jail at 16, Zheng taught himself English and graduated from the college program at San Quentin.

“When I first went into prison, I had to learn survival skills.” Zheng said. “Once I learned those, I wanted to educate myself.”

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An Unlikely Friendship

Apr 09, 2007
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One teacher’s lasting friendship with a convicted felon and her involvement in his transformation from prisoner to poet

by Loretta Sheng and Zack Kousnetz, The Paly Voice

excerpt:

When Palo Alto High School teacher Jeanne Loh was a fourth grader living in Huntington Beach, Calif., then-16-year-old Oakland resident Eddy Zheng was committing armed robbery and kidnapping. Thirteen years after he was sentenced to seven-years-to-life, the two met in San Quentin State Prison where Loh was volunteering as a teacher’s assistant.

So began what would be an eight-year friendship that would see the two share hundreds of letters and her volunteering as the transcriber and caretaker of Zheng’s online blog. During this time, Zheng would emerge as one of the Bay Area’s most celebrated reformed convicts. A poet, published author and supporter of prisoners’ rights, Zheng converted himself — in part with Loh’s help — from a troubled teenage immigrant into a dedicated and selfless contributor to society.

The more Loh got to know Zheng, the more she believed in the strength of this transformation. “If you think about your own suffering there’s always someone else who’s suffered more than you,” Loh says.

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