What We’ve Learned
When we started Prison Writers, we had no idea it would become a lifeline for so many of our writers. We’ve received dozens and dozens of letters from prisoners thanking us for giving them a sense of purpose, something they thought they’d never find again. They love knowing someone on the outside cares about them and their message. They love having a “boss” who gives them deadlines. And they feel buoyed knowing they’re part of a greater good, in a community of their peers, working together to change prison policies.
We pay our writers $10 per published article, a small fortune to prisoners who work for next to nothing. (In Texas, prisoners aren’t paid at ALL.) And nothing is more rehabilitative and inspiring for someone living in caged isolation than having someone from the outside world care about their well-being and believe in their efforts to rehabilitate themselves.
A note on editing: If a story needs to be rewritten or restructured, we give writers our suggestions and ask them to try again. For other stories, we might move a paragraph or two around or fix typos. But in all cases, we never do more than very light editing. Where necessary, we “translate” prison lingo for our readers. When possible, we fact-check any verifiable information.
Helpful Information For New Writers
If you know of an incarcerated writer who might be interested in contributing to Prison Writers, please have them send stories to me via Jpay. If Jpay isn’t available in their state, they can send stories (preferably typed!!) to me: Loen Kelley at PO Box 334 in NY, NY 10002. And if they’d like more information, please send them Helpful Information for New Writers.