We want to first thank the whole team at the Prison Journalism Project for their graciousness in allowing us to feature some articles and stories from their archive surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak in prisons. Please check out their website: The Prison Journalism Project. Here you can find content beyond Covid-19, but published work from authors and writers from within prison. On our website, we will be exclusively posting stories surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, however, make sure to still check out the rest of their page.
This project has a long history, stretching from a Medium page back in 2019 that has blossomed into a much larger project which features all types of writers. In their own words:
“The Prison Journalism Project publication was started in April 2020 to share stories about dealing with the coronavirus from inside and around the criminal justice system.
We had heard reports that some people had not been able to get a hold of even a bar of soap to maintain minimum sanitary practices. We had heard that shelter-in-place orders had prevented incarcerated people from seeing their friends and family, isolating them even more than before. As weeks and months passed, some prisons experienced an outbreak in the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the spike in unemployment has impacted families and their ability to care for their loved ones inside. There were reports of some states releasing older inmates, but they encountered tremendous challenges re-entering society during a pandemic. Of course, there were also triumphs in adversity — babies being born, families growing closer, and the essential work formerly incarcerated men and women are doing, risking their own health for the safety of others. Some of these stories were coming out, but not enough. We wanted to make sure that the breadth of experiences were remembered when future generations looked back on the history of this period.
After initially launching our publication on Medium, we migrated to an independent site in July 2020 to give us more flexibility in how we showcase our writers’ work. We also expanded the scope of the publication because it was evident that everyone had a lot more to share with the world about their experiences with incarceration. We also wanted writers think of this publication as theirs, a place where they could hone their writing and establish a portfolio.
Potential writers, we are accepting stories across all topics. Some of you might have thoughts about the George Floyd killing or your own experience with police brutality. Some of you might have something to say about prison conditions or criminal justice reform. Some of you may have thoughts about parenting or prison education. Please submit stories about topics that you care about and want the world to know. Check out our Submission Guidelines page for specific instructions.
The Prison Journalism Project was established in September 2019 to highlight the voices of the men, women and youth behind bars as well as those of their loved ones. Our goal is to help establish fresh reputations as journalists and writers and help people become thought leaders in criminal justice issues. We think what you have to say is tremendously important.
To learn more about us, please check out our organizational website at the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State.”
Shout out particularly to Yukari Iwatani Kane & Shaheen Pasha, who are both co-executive directors with the project and who met with us to discuss our collaboration and how we should go about it. Please check below to all the stories we’ve been able to feature on our site because of the Prison Journalism Project. Thank you!