Both Prisons and the Public Rely On Incarcerated Writers
Prison Journalism Project
by Patrick Irving
4d ago
Last year, New York’s corrections department ordered artists and writers in custody to provide their work for review before circulating it publicly. New York Focus reporter Chris Gelardi wrote that the directive established “a stringent, months-long approval process for people in its custody to publish creative work, including books, art, music, poetry, film scripts, and other writing.”  It also provided prison superintendents with broad authority to censor any work that mentioned the artist’s or author’s crime or portrayed the agency in a manner that could threaten operations, according ..read more
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How a Trip to the Dining Hall Perfectly Captures the Summer Heat of a Florida Prison
Prison Journalism Project
by Justin Slavinski
6d ago
Instead of telling you about how brutal the Florida heat is, I will show you.  The walk from most prison dormitories in my state to the dining hall is in full sunlight. Shade, in the form of trees or awnings, is uncommon in Florida prisons for security reasons. When I make this three-minute walk in the summer, I get pummeled by the sun’s oppressive rays. Dressed in cornflower blue poly-blend pants and shirts, I soak up the heat. My clothes become sopped with sweat.  Heat hits the incarcerated even harder because we spend so much time indoors without air conditioning, which is common ..read more
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The Consequences of Sweltering Prisons in the Carolinas
Prison Journalism Project
by Gary K. Farlow
1w ago
Last year was the planet’s hottest ever, and this year has a shot at being even hotter. In prison, spiking temperatures can be fatal. Deaths in prisons climb 5.2% with every 10 degrees the summer’s thermometer rises above average, according to a 2023 Prison Policy Initiative report. Suicides go up 4.8%. Fatal heart complications rise 6.7%. “It ain’t like I can go buy a bag of ice,” said Jimmy, a 78-year-old who’s serving a life sentence. “I can remember snow as deep as your ankles as far south as Alabama. You ain’t going to see that ever again, no siree.” Like most elderly people in prison ..read more
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How to File Public Records Requests From Prison
Prison Journalism Project
by Patrick Irving
1w ago
From my cell at an Idaho prison, I write a monthly newsletter called First Amend This!, which provides news and stories for the incarcerated community about the goings-on of the Idaho Department of Corrections.    Because of this work, I’m often approached by people with DOC-specific questions that I am unable to answer. Rather than speculate or commit myself to finding the answer, I use these opportunities to educate others on how to obtain the information themselves. My main advice? Learn to request public records.  For prison journalists, public record requests are a cr ..read more
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My Court-Appointed Lawyer Stuck With Me Even After Losing My Case
Prison Journalism Project
by Vaughn Wright
3w ago
MaryAnn Swift lost my case in court, but she never left me behind. In 1996, MaryAnn was my court-appointed counsel on the case for which I am currently serving 34 to 68 years in a central Pennsylvania prison. For the 15 years following my conviction, she continued to correspond with me, never failing to send birthday and Christmas cards, each with a $10 money order stuffed inside.  MaryAnn died in 2011 after a long, hard-fought battle with oral cancer — the woman smoked like a steam engine. We kept in touch until shortly before she died.  Since I am imprisoned more than 200 miles fr ..read more
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In a Prison of Conformity, This Is How We Display Our Individuality
Prison Journalism Project
by Lexie Handlang
3w ago
Prison strips you of any sense of individuality. Take a look in a cell and you will find gray bunk beds, gray footlockers, gray end tables, gray walls. Prisoners in the state of Missouri are issued gray pants and gray shirts, white underwear, white socks and white towels. Despite the forces that impose sameness, many have found ways to keep their individuality alive. Preserving our individuality is how we maintain our humanity. Fashion and other personal style choices For me, I wear my makeup proudly and style my hair beautifully. I never wear the same outfit two days in a row, and I paint my ..read more
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If I Ran This Prison
Prison Journalism Project
by Dennis “Abbadunamis” Mintun
3w ago
Having been incarcerated for more than 20 years, I’ve seen many changes. I’ve lived in different prisons, under different administrations, and seen the different ways people run things.  Given my experiences, I put together a list of 10 improvements I’d like to see at my prison, Idaho State Correctional Institution in Boise.  1. Instead of paying 30 or 40 cents per hour, I’d give workers a decent wage. And all inmate IDs would be encoded like debit cards. I would do away with “hidden” fees that many prisons attach to services like phone calls and commissary purchases. For example, i ..read more
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From Web to Work: How a Tech Ed Program Helps People Prepare to Leave Prison
Prison Journalism Project
by Ryan M. Moser
3w ago
On Wednesday, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of Massachusetts Lowell published the results of a two–year study of Brave Behind Bars, MIT’s web design program for incarcerated students. Taught inside six U.S. prisons, the college-accredited computer science and career-readiness course was designed to foster digital literacy, develop self-efficacy and promote successful reintegration into society and the workplace. The qualitative study evaluated the effects of teaching HTML and JavaScript to incarcerated students, highlighting a notable increase in their self-confidence a ..read more
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I’m Watching The Knicks’ Playoff Run From Prison
Prison Journalism Project
by Darrell Powell
1M ago
The last time the New York Knicks played an NBA Finals game, in 1999, I rooted for them from my cellblock on Rikers Island. The play-by-play broadcast echoed from everyone’s transistor radios down the tier. People cheered for the Knicks’ highlight plays and jeered the opposing team. Once in a while, someone placed a bet with the person in the next cell. “I’ll bet you an ice cream he misses the next free throw,” they would say, promising an item from the prison commissary store.  When we were allowed to leave our cells, we watched the game on the recreation room’s tube TV, locked in a tra ..read more
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How I Regained My Self-Esteem in Prison
Prison Journalism Project
by Kashawn Taylor
1M ago
At first, I couldn’t understand it. Why were these men concerned with their appearance in prison? Who were they trying to impress? It took me several months to uncover their secret, and even longer to believe the hype. In prison, the only person you need to impress is yourself. When the judge sentenced me to three years, I was at my heaviest, approaching 200 pounds. I felt a heavy sadness, like a lone boulder or a beached whale. My hair, in which I’d previously taken pride, became nappy and unruly. I had gradually given up on self-care because, frankly, I had given up on the future and on mys ..read more
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