We are creating a universal curriculum, a textbook and a teacher’s kit to teach journalistic writing classes in prisons nationwide.
We believe that the U.S. criminal justice system cannot change without the voices of those who are impacted by it. We believe in the power of words.
Prison journalism has had a long history in the United States, with the first prison newspaper coming out of a debtor’s prison in 1800.
By 1959, there were as many as 250 of them, but most closed in the decades since because of a lack of resources and hostile prison administrations. While interest in such publications is reviving, prisons don’t have the knowledge or training to realize them.
Meanwhile, an increasingly punitive stance on incarceration in the past few decades has stripped education programs in prison—an especially disturbing shift given that inmates who participate in correctional education programs have 43 percent lower odds of returning to prison than those who do not. Even when there are programs available, most classes are run by fellow inmates who lack sufficient training and materials to adequately teach the classes.
The best journalism starts with personal experience.
We work with correctional facilities, universities, foundations, non-profits and community organizations to establish and promote prison journalism. We are creating a universal curriculum, a textbook and a teacher’s kit to teach journalistic writing classes in prisons nationwide. We are building a content platform to publish stories and essays by our incarcerated writers and journalists and those around them. We also advise and train academic professionals, volunteer teachers and incarcerated teachers through seminars and coaching programs.
Prison education is proven to reduce recidivism. By providing journalism skills, in particular, which emphasize writing, critical thinking and social skills, we believe we can create a practical foundation that incarcerated men and women can use upon reentry while also becoming thought leaders in criminal justice.