Producing News Inside is an exciting endeavor, and we do our best to get it to as many people behind bars as possible. But sometimes it can be difficult. Not all state Departments of Correction accept every issue of our publication. A rejection can be due to a security concern that could be plausible for a DOC, but sounds almost harmless to the average reader. Then there are issues of facility priority — changes in the way people move around a prison due to factors like COVID-19, the temporary closure of an institution’s library or correctional staff protests — that come before the distribution of News Inside. Reader Luther W. explained one scenario at his Florida facility:
“They have a stack that was donated to the law library, but staff doesn’t want them to be passed out,” Luther W., who is incarcerated in Florida, wrote us in a letter. “Instead, you have to be one of the few inmates that are allowed to go there.”
But for every distribution struggle, there’s an example of successful circulation. Jeffery H., a staff member of the Angolite magazine produced in Louisiana State Prison, wrote:
“We have helped distribute the two issues of News Inside you graciously donated to the Louisiana State Penitentiary. We would like to commend you on your efforts and state that you have produced a very informative and insightful publication. … We look forward to reading more of your publication, and as much as possible, convey the gratitude and appreciation of the Angola population.”
States such as Colorado, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Virginia and Louisiana have allowed the circulation of News Inside without interruption. Other state systems have been receptive to our journalism, even when we have the occasional hiccup.
I should note that this issue is inspired by the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, a six-month journalism fellowship that I completed in January. I wanted to do an ethnographic study to zero in on who our audience is and what motivates them. I reached out to incarcerated readers across the country who had written to us in the past offering their assistance if we ever needed it. I asked each of them to interview 10 of their peers about what they value most. Most said they cared about three things above all: “freedom,” “family” and “faith.” This issue touches on all three.
Today Was a Good Day (page 21)Faith
Our third installment of our “Reader to Reader” advice column focuses on how you practice your faith while in a carceral setting.Extras
Issue 10 also features our comic, “The Peeps”; our reader showcase, “In The Spotlight”; our trivia game, “Thinking Inside the Box”; and our ever faithful crossword puzzle.
After reading this issue, I hope our online readers can begin to understand what our incarcerated readers like — and maybe even care about why.