Prison during Pandemic

The pandemic has brought on a period of transformation that is changing the very fabric of our communities and cultures. One aspect of such change in this historic moment is the growing national and international awareness of systemic injustice that has plagued our nation since its founding centuries ago. We’re seeing this awareness take form in the national and international protests against police brutality and in the increase in discussions and dialogue about how to justly and appropriately address these deeply rooted issues and forge change. 

Fitting into this discussion is the issue of for-profit prisons and state funded prisons and the conditions within them, particularly under COVID-19. Prisons and jails have become virus hotspots much in the same way as retirement homes and long-term care facilities. Similarly, they’re hotspots for injustice. Our team’s awareness of these criminal justice system inequities has inspired us to make it our priority to continue educating people about them and to feature and highlight the amazing work being done by others. Our partners at WriteAPrisoner, Prison Writers, The American Prison Writing Archive (TBA)The Prison Journalism Project, and Mourning Our Losses have started submitting stories and we will be updating this page regularly so you can stay up to date on the lived experiences and perspectives of those imprisoned during the pandemic and those who are involved in fighting for change within the American criminal justice system. 

To get a taste, check out with this stories within our archive submitted to us from prison (which one was subsequently featured and read by our collaborating podcast NoiseFilter), along with personal accounts from WriteAPrisoner (Currently Under Construction, refer to other pages please), articles and testimonies from the The Prison Journalism Projectmemorials of those within prison from Mourning Our Losses, personal and creative stories from Prison Writers, and a zine below created by Prison Renaissance which features art created from within prison during the pandemic. These are all in their respective order from left to right. If you would like to reach out and collaborate or share a prison story you can contact the coordinator of our Prison during Pandemic initiative, Elias Aceves, at You may also share your story simply through our archive (whichever is most comfortable for you). Thank you! 

A. R., Imprisoned Citizen, Cottonport, LA

“Since the global outbreak of covid-19 I have watched it closely from the prison TV they have for us here. I started to see how more cases and more deaths were at rise. Never did I imagine it would reach this facility and affect the staff security as well.”

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Anonymous, (N/A age), Imprisoned Citizen

“I really don’t know if i feel safe or not. They have numerous people in here coughing, sneezing and allot of stuff. Come to think about it i really don’t feel safe because the people that’s suppose to protect us is the ones that bringing it in here to us.”

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M.M., 36, a writer in Monroe, WA

“I asked one guard in the dining-hall why he refused to wear his mask, in light of the death which he could be unknowingly introducing into my community, and he smiled as he responded:”Man, I’m just trying to spread the love.”And I was thinking: Oh yeah, they don’t view us as human. Why would they care if they kill us?”

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Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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