Marshall Project Originals
California’s Longest Serving Death-Row Prisoner On Pain, Survival and Native Identity
As the Monache and Cherokee 63-year-old awaits a new hearing for a 1978 murder he denies committing, Douglas Ray Stankewitz shares the cultural tools and memories he depends on to stay alive.
There Are Fewer People Behind Bars Now Than 10 Years Ago. Will It Last?
Census data show incarceration rates are down. It may have more to do with the pandemic than broad reforms.
Zoom Funerals, Outdoor Classes: Jails and Prisons Evolve Amid the Pandemic
But will high-tech programs replace “the human touch” when the virus ebbs?
When Going to the Hospital Is Just as Bad as Jail
A new lawsuit claims Black Americans with mental illness are being forced into traumatic emergency room stays.
Being a Prison Firefighter Taught Me to Save Lives
I first joined the San Quentin fire department to get my own room, eat well and train dogs. It ended up being the most important experience of my life.
The Former Prisoners Fighting California’s Wildfires
“When people are in need, they don’t give a shit where you’re from or what your history is.”
During the Pandemic, a Prison Funeral for Our Angel
Despite coronavirus-related lockdown and a skittish staff, prisoners at California Women’s Facility pulled off a full-fledged memorial service for a beloved long-termer.
One Roadblock to Police Reform: Veteran Officers Who Train Recruits
Field trainers "are part of the old guard of the department. They teach the old way of doing things."
I Am Not Your “Other”
I’m a Cambodian-American from Long Beach, California. But to a prison system that limits its population categories to “Black,” “White” and “Hispanic,” I’m the race version of a misfit toy.
I Wonder If They Know My Son Is Loved
Visiting my son in jail for the first time, I know that I cannot protect him. Although he is too young to drink, the criminal justice system regards him as an adult.
How To Hide a COVID-19 Hotspot? Pretend Prisoners Don’t Exist
A county trying to reopen its economy wrestles with a virus outbreak in prison.
No Photo ID, No Services: Coronavirus Poses Steep Hurdles After Prison
For many people leaving prison during the pandemic, closed DMVs mean closed doors.
Photos Show No Social Distancing In Federal Halfway House
A new lawsuit says crowded meals and dorms increase coronavirus risk.
A Growing Number of State Courts Are Confronting Unconscious Racism In Jury Selection
“A judge who deals with prosecutors every day is not going to say, ‘You intentionally discriminated on the basis of race, and you lied about it with pretextual reasons.’”
A New Tactic To Fight Coronavirus: Send The Homeless From Jails To Hotels
California and New York City are booking hotels so homeless people released from jail don’t accelerate the pandemic.
Photos Show Some Prison Beds Are Only Three Feet Apart
Despite coronavirus, crowding continues inside California’s system.
“They Don’t Care:” Families Of The Incarcerated Fear The Worst As Coronavirus Spreads
With in-person visits suspended nationwide, people with loved ones behind bars say they’re being left in the dark.
How This Prison Collaborated on a Larger-Than-Life Work of Art
French artist JR worked with California prisoners to create his latest installation.
He Was 17 When He Went To Prison. How Much Should That Matter To The Parole Board?
If William Palmer wins in court, thousands could get closer to exiting California prisons.
California Governor Promises More Changes to “Biased, Random” Justice System
Signing a new law on police shootings, Gavin Newsom says he’s sending a message.
The New Price of a Plea Bargain in California
Lawmakers cut criminal sentences; some DAs push back using plea deals.
Who Begs To Go To Prison? California Jail Inmates
Effort to cut prison overcrowding puts some jails in crisis.
I Watched a Man Die in Prison. His Last Words Haunt Me.
“There is hardly a day that passes when I do not see his face.”
I Was a Juror on a Murder Trial, And I Still Can’t Let It Go
“I felt an overwhelming sense of injustice. How did this happen?”
Why I Quit My Prison Gang
“The whole experience, I realized, was like a strange mix between junior high school and the Roman Senate.”
How One County Became a Lab for California’s Prison Reform
San Joaquin went all in. Now it’s a model.
The Jerry Brown Way of Pardoning
Former inmates facing deportation place their hope in California's outgoing governor.
Nearly a Decade Awaiting Trial, Now Freed
Neko Wilson to be released in the first test of California’s felony murder law.
So Much for The Great California Bail Celebration
The first state to abolish cash bail. Why are proponents so unhappy?
Can It Be Murder If You Didn’t Kill Anyone?
A distinctly American legal doctrine holds getaway drivers and lookouts as responsible for a death as the actual killer. California is having second thoughts.
California Voters Reject Prosecutor 'Reformers'
Candidates backed by Soros, others are still pressing ahead in other parts of the country.
Thelton Henderson transformed California’s criminal justice system. Now comes the backlash.
The Check is in The Mail (For Real)
A California county will issue refunds to parents wrongly billed for their kids’ incarceration.
Adolescence with an Ankle Bracelet
What it’s like to spend your teenage years tethered to Big Brother.
43 States Suspend Licenses for Unpaid Court Debt, But That Could Change
Lawsuits say the practice severely penalizes those too poor to pay.
The California Inmates Fighting The Wine Country Wildfires
Photographer Brian L. Frank captures the lives of men on the fire lines and at home in prison conservation camps.
California Ends Practice of Billing Parents for Kids in Detention
The change comes months after a Marshall Project investigation.
Katie's father went to prison for raping her and her brothers. It was an unthinkable crime that broke her family apart. So why couldn't she remember it?
Afraid of Jail? Buy an Upgrade
How California’s pay-to-stay jails create a two-tiered justice system.
Sessions May Resist Federal Oversight of Police, But There’s Another Option
A California law offers a way for states to reshape troubled departments.
The Death Penalty is Alive and Well
Voters in three states approve measures to strengthen capital punishment.
Death by Another Name
California Prop 62 would repeal the death penalty. A lifer says it doesn’t go far enough.
Three States to Watch if You Care About the Death Penalty
Nebraska, Oklahoma, and California will test the prospects of abolition.
It’s Not Just Pot and the Death Penalty
Four important ballot measures you probably haven’t heard of.
The War on Drugs Isn't Even Working in Prison
Frequent urine tests, controversial scanners, and false positives.
The Prison Visit That Cost My Family $2,370
How loved ones bear the hidden cost of shipping inmates out of state.
One Man’s Haunting Look at PTSD and His Brother’s Execution
The Oscar-nominated short ‘Last Day of Freedom’ traces the troubled life of a black veteran.
Rarely Seen Images of the Real San Quentin
Thousands of photos, unearthed after decades, form an archive of daily life.
Security Warnings by U.S. Preceded California Jail Break
Three inmates had a 16-hour head start after fleeing lock-up that had ‘poor supervision.'
Getting a Hustle: How to Live Like a King Behind Bars
From moonshine to tattoos to balloons of drugs.
The Unfolding Campaign to Save the Death Penalty
Supporters rally around a more efficient system of execution.
Were These Transgender Prisoners Paroled — Or Just Kicked Out?
Three prisons were ordered to provide transgender health care. Three prisoners were suddenly set free.
When Prisons Need to Be More Like Nursing Homes
Finding new ways to treat the growing pool of older, ailing inmates.
Prisoners Who Fight Wildfires in California: An Insider’s Look
For $2 a day, “It’s a hairy adventure, let me tell you.”
‘Children Do Not Have the Same Capacity as Adults to Control Their Reactions.’
A selection of recent letters from our readers.
A Record of Trouble
California looks to halfway houses, finds a company cited for violence and escapes.