Dr. L. Paul Sutton has taken more than 2,000 students through more than 100 separate, weeklong PrisonTour excursions involving more than half of California's 33 prisons since 1983. In total, the PrisonTours have covered nearly 150,000 miles. Students have met and talked with dozens of wardens, scores of inmates, and hundreds of correctional staff over the years about prison, prison life & "prison politics," as well as the challenges of working behind the walls.
Sutton's work in and around the world of prison has given rise to two front-page feature stories; innumerable media references in places are far flung as People Magazine and ABC's Good Morning America; multiple ongoing projects inside prisons; three feature documentaries, inlcluding Prison Through Tomorrow's Eyes, the story of one group of students' weeklong PrisonTour experience; a documentary about San Quentin muralist and now-famous artist Alfredo Santos; and has very recently become the basis for significant research and prison volunteer work (i.e., the S.U.M.I.T. project) in which Sutton and dozens of San Diego State University students work with staff and inmates at correctional facilities in southern California.
Sutton has also garnered five Emmys and dozens of film festival awards for his first two documentaries, Doing Time and Doing Time: Ten Years Later, shot at the ill-fated New Mexico State Penitentiary--the 1980 scene of the bloodiest prison riot in American history. They remain classics in the realm of prison documentaries.
He also publishes, consults, and speaks broadly about issues in crime, corrections, and criminal justice.