From A Dear Reader…

Dear Prison Writers, Just wanted you to know that I am excited to share this site with people I know... Our family went through the whole “intro to prison life” when my 40-year-old husband drove from Texas to Colorado to rob a marijuana dispensary. Dumb move. He’s serving time in Colorado and the rest of us have suffered greatly for [...]

A Prison Program Changed My Life

By: Carrie Ames, Contributing Writer Somewhere in the purgatory between jail and prison I was convinced that prison would be a land of opportunity.  I was told of advanced education, treatment, activities — glorified misperceptions by people who had never been to prison, whose closest experiences were TV shows, fictional books and the misleading DOC [Department of Corrections] websites. After [...]

I Taught Myself Yoga In Prison – And It Changed My Life

By: Daniel Harris, Contributing Writer Many are intimidated by the expensive trappings of yoga. When you take away all the specialty items, forget the retreats to faraway places, and make do where you are with what  you have, yoga comes alive. Yoga's roots were in a hovel; it has only recently taken to life in palaces. I began my yoga [...]

How A Dogs in Prison Program Changed My Life

By: Robert Molloy, Contributing Writer I am often amused by the prison stereotypes I run across in the media. We are all big, buff, tattooed beasts who spend our days pumping iron, slugging the boxing-bag, and intimidating the other stereotypes: weak, effeminate youngsters, barely-bearded. While there are a few who fit those molds, the reality – at least in the [...]

The Great Philosophers Changed My Life In Prison

By: Larry Bratt, Contributing Writer In Voltaire’s A Philosophical Dictionary, there’s the question, “Can a person change his or her character?” Voltaire’s suggestion that “we can improve, we can smooth down, we can hide what nature has placed in us. But we put nothing there ourselves.” Discussions with fellow inmates about this went back and forth, as a few men [...]

After 20 Years of Solitary in A Supermax Prison — They Send Me To THIS Place?

By: Mustafa Zulu, Contributing Writer For the past two decades, up until April 27, 2015, I was living in solitary confinement at the only federal Supermax prison in America, ADX Florence in Colorado. I was housed and handled under the high-max custody level. No less than three guards had to escort me anywhere I went (it's called a three-man hold). On [...]

The Alternatives To Violence Project Changed My Life Forever

By: Michael Winsett, Contributing Writer One day I looked into the activity room in the unit where I live and I saw inmates participating in some kind of class.  First thing I thought was that it was just “another” prison program, won’t do me any good to sign up for it. There were three females and one male from outside [...]

I Spent 20 Years In Solitary in America’s Worst Prison — Then One Day, It Was Suddenly Over

By: Mustafa Zulu, Contributing Writer It was 4:00 in the morning, just one month shy of my 39th birthday. I was sound asleep in my prison cell. A guard and a property officer beamed a flashlight in my face and started banging on the bars to wake me up. " Hey, Zulu! Turn on your light and step up to [...]

10 Tips For Surviving Long Term Solitary Confinement

By: Mustafa Zulu, Contributing Writer Editors Note:  Mustafa Zulu spent 20 years in solitary confinement in the harshest Federal Prison in America:  ADX Florence in Colorado.  One day, he was told he was moving to a STATE prison in North Carolina. 1) STRESS MANAGEMENT: Stress kills. Solitary confinement units are pressure cookers, and extreme pressure busts pipes without relief valves. [...]

This Was Not The Boob Job I Was Looking For…

By: Lorie Longoria, Contributing Writer I always wanted a boob job. In all my years as a stripper, drug addict and a prostitute, my first big dream was to have my breasts done and really make some money. I mean that’s what life is about, big boobs, bras, booze, drugs, money and men (or women, if that’s your preference) right? It’s ironic [...]

A Prisoner Reveals Secrets About Smuggling Drugs Into Prison

By: Daniel Harris, Contributing Writer Everyone's always shocked to learn that so many drugs are available in prison. But why, I always wonder. It would be more surprising if the lure of easy profits didn't corrupt so many guards to smuggle them in, given how poorly the guards are paid and how easy the money is. In many cases, a prisoner [...]

The Weekend I Forgot I Was In Prison

By: Lucas Morgan, Contributing Writer Have you ever been screaming inside with a story that you just had to get out? I feel like I will burst if I don't tell you about the time I forgot I was locked up in prison. Kind of like when you were in high school and you finally got to kiss the hot girl [...]

What Happens In Prison Doesn’t Stay In Prison Anymore

We live in a world where a husband could pick up his wife from a dentist appointment on his lunch break...

Kaleb: Your Father Tracy Lee Kendall Is Looking For You

By: Tracy Lee Kendall, Contributing Writer Editor's Note:  Tracy Lee Kendall gave us permission to print this personal letter to his long-lost son, Kaleb, in hopes he will someday read it.  8-23-15 Dear Kaleb, I hope this finds everyone there doing well. I am your father and I have been writing to you for the last sixteen years with no idea [...]

Why I Let The Guy Go, Instead of Terminating on Sight

By: Jermaine Archer, Contributing Author In 1992, summer in Brooklyn, New York came early. We had “permanent beef” with a West Indian crew, which meant trying to terminate each other on sight. Gunshots sparked so often that Flatbush residents didn’t have to wait for the Fourth of July to see fireworks. One spring day, I strolled down Flatbush Avenue with my [...]

Lyle May is Reading and Writing As Fast As He Can — on Death Row

By: Lyle C. May In early childhood, writing was this scrawling the symbols of English language with little understanding of their purpose. Large, crooked letters staggered like drunks across the page, jockeying for position and uniformity. My letter R was often backward, the vowels never really touched the bottom line and I couldn’t quite get the hang of the lower [...]

Incarcerated at 8: Growing Up Behind Bars

By: Marcellus Smith, Contributing Writer Growing up, I never had my mother or father in my life. I never met my father and because my mother was using drugs while she was pregnant with me, I was taken away from her as an infant, never to be returned to her as she was always in and out of prison. I [...]

My Rehabilitation: The Pen Beats The Sword

As we know, I am currently in prison, which I have learned does one of two significant things to its occupants: brings the best out of them, or the worst...

What If… I Hadn’t Shot The Cab Driver That Night?

By: Frederick Paine, Contributing Writer When I sat on death row for 20 years my favorite game to play was the “what if…?” This is an exercise that most people engage in, but none more so than prisoners. No inmate feels like they belong in prison. I’m not talking about a question of innocence or guilt but rather the stark [...]

A Lesson on Drugs in Prison

BY TY EVANS Courtesy Ty Evans “Dope is how I do my time," Dale explained, after asking me about the availability of drugs in prisons I'd that he might be transferred. We were in a transfer unit at Michigan City -- he was pending transfer out to New Castle, me newly arrived from Pendleton. I was waiting for [...]

Why I Help Out the Elderly In Prison

BY KENNETH FOSTER Courtesy of Kenneth Foster I came up around people that lived the street life. And in that setting, you learn a set of skills that helps you survive. If you go to a jungle, you learn a set of skills. Likewise with a desert, the country or the city. In the street life, you learn [...]

Does Prison Work? A Prisoner’s Thank You Letter To Prison

BY PATRICK LAMOUR Courtesy of Patrick Lamour   Dear Prison, I’m writing this letter to thank you, to let you know how much I've come to appreciate you in my life. This might sound bizarre coming from a prisoner like me, but during our twelve-year relationship, I've learned to see you as the greatest teacher I've ever known. [...]

Bring Back Pell Grants For Prisoners: Inmates’ Kids Were Inspired To Stay In School

BY LARRY STEPHENSON Courtesy of Larry Stephenson There aren't many positive prison programs available in the criminal justice system these days. But forty-years ago, college courses were offered with the possibility of achieving two and four year degrees. During the "Reagan Era," Pell Grants for prisoners was eliminated – and college programs in prisons folded. I was one of [...]

How My College-Educated Cellmate Changed My Life

BY RICHARD TAYLOR Only the strong survive. Those were the words I was told in 1999 when I was sentenced to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. I was only 17 years old, charged with 5 counts of aggravated robbery. So I made up my mind that I would not take no disrespect from nobody once I [...]

My Crime: Jonathan Benson

BY JONATHAN BENSON, Contributing Writer image courtesy of Jonathan Benson On April 4th, 2011 I was pulled over for a taillight being burnt out. No big deal, right? Usually no, however I was “methin’ around” (high on meth) at the time and my kids were with me in the vehicle. I was charged with CDS [Controlled Dangerous Substances] [...]

What “Life” Is About on Death Row

By: Paul Anthony Brown, Contributing Writer I arrived to death row on August 28, 2000. I did not think I’d still be alive 14 years later, but here I am. Surely, we will all experience death. However, I suppose true death cannot be hastened, or put off; we will die when it’s our time to go. Living in this environment is [...]

A 2-Year Old Boy Lights Up This Lifer’s Life

BY LEONARD SCOVENS Courtesy of Leonard Scovens   I see our ancestors jamming, praying, singing in his eyes. We’re separated by a piece of plexiglass criss-crossed with steel wire designed to cage me in this prison that has strived to become my home; but my two-year old nephew Ja ‘Shua is irrepressible. The reinforced steel, tough-talking guards, the [...]

A Stray Dog Walks into A Prison…

BY CHRISTOPHER WARREN Recently there has been a fair wind blowing life into the men at the Taft Correctional Satellite Camp facility — a breath of the human spirit. It has come in the form of four legs, short stature, and floppy ears. Sprocket, our very own contra-dog. There is something quintessentially human about scratching the belly of a dog; [...]

Long Term Incarceration: When The Time Hits You

BY ANDREW PHILLIPS (bio) The expression "when that time hits you" is most commonly used in reference to inmates with long sentences.  It’s the moment when long-term incarceration forces an inmate to assess the gravity of his situation. I’m talking 15-year sentences -- or more. Now, I don't wanna scare anybody, but in today's America anything less than fifteen years is [...]

YES, It Happens. Guards Beat Me Up Out Of Sight Of Cameras

By: Jermaine Archer, Contributing Writer “The next time I have to tell you something twice, I’m gonna knock ya teeth outta ya mouth,” he whispered, his breath hot against my neck, the sharp hairs above his lip pricking my earlobes. If he weren’t 6’3” and about 250 pounds of stuff that didn’t jiggle or bounce, I might’ve been turned me on. [...]

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