If there’s one lesson from this week’s Pull Quotes episode, “What we don’t get when we cover prisons and prisoners,” it’s that the most important voices when reporting on prisons are the ones that are most often overlooked: people with lived experience in those institutions.
While mainstream news outlets will occasionally publish work by prisoners, here are some resources where you can access work done by prisoners about their experiences:
PASAN is health and harm reduction organization that supports prisoners and former prisoners across Canada. Their quarterly newsletter, Cell Count, features writing from people inside and outside prison. Prisoners can subscribe to the newsletter, which includes news and poetry from prisoners across Canada, as well as writing from non-prisoners. Prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families can subscribe for free, and their issues are available online.
El Jones, featured on this week’s episode of Pull Quotes, hosts a weekly radio show on CKDU in Halifax called Black Power Hour.
Black Power Hour is a weekly collectively run radio show where prisoners can call in and share their work, and through that work, she says, “it’s a real platform for them to organize, and for issues to get out there.” They have collective journalism projects where they report on issues like access to phones, and what it’s like to be in jail.
Here she is talking about the different ways prisoners can access media:
Ear Hustle is a podcast out of the Bay Area, produced by current and former prisoners. It’s a partnership between visual artist Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods, a former prisoner who was released from San Quentin State Prison in November of 2018. It was co-founded with Antwan Williams, who is still incarcerated at San Quentin. The show covers a broad range of issues: race relations, solitary confinement, and what it’s like to be a parent in prison.
The Marshall Project, a U.S. nonprofit news organization that, according to their website, “seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system,” just launched its first issue of News Inside, a print publication that will be distributed inside U.S. prisons. The pilot issue, which included stories about life after release, prison theatre programs, and criminal justice reform, was distributed to 30 institutions in 19 states.
THE JOURNAL OF PRISONERS ON PRISONS
The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons has been publishing since 1988. It features peer-reviewed articles in both English and French written by prisoners, former prisoners, and some non-prisoners.