Marshall Project Originals
The Art of Bidding, or How I Survived Federal Prison
When Eric Borsuk went to prison with his two best friends, they found their ‘bid’ — their purpose — together. Then one day, everything changed.
She Tried to ‘Humanize’ Prisons in Oregon. Can She Fix the Federal System?
Inspired by European models, the new Bureau of Prisons director built a Japanese garden in one penitentiary and made official language less demeaning. But some are skeptical of lasting reform.
People in the Scandal-Plagued Federal Prison System Reveal What They Need in a New Director
“This is kind of like AA: To move forward, first you have to admit there’s a problem.”
As Corrections Officers Quit in Droves, Prisons Get Even More Dangerous
Fewer guards lead to more lockdowns, rising tensions and scant access to healthcare.
A State-By-State Look at 15 Months of Coronavirus in Prisons
The Marshall Project and The Associated Press collected data on COVID-19 infections in state and federal prisons every week. See how the virus affected correctional facilities near you.
31,000 Prisoners Sought Compassionate Release During COVID-19. The Bureau of Prisons Approved 36.
As the pandemic worsened inside federal prisons, officials granted fewer releases.
They’re Going Back to Prison. But They Didn’t Commit New Crimes.
A court battle over an obscure Tennessee statute freed these men from prison. Years later, they were told they must return.
Think Private Prison Companies Are Going Away Under Biden? They Have Other Plans
CoreCivic and GEO Group have been shifting away from prisons toward other government contracts, like office space and immigration detention.
The United States of Incarceration
The United States locks up more people per capita than any other developed country. Here’s why.
These Federal Prison Guards Are Desperate for Trump to Lose
Unlike many law enforcement unions that endorsed the president, Bureau of Prisons staff argue he's anti-union.
Prisoners Won The Right To Stimulus Checks. Some Prisons Are Standing In The Way.
A federal judge ruled prisoners can get the $1,200 checks many Americans received in the spring. Some prison systems are putting up roadblocks, lawyers and prisoners say.
Byron Miller’s Race Against Time
Months ago, the attorney general ordered pandemic prison releases. After 24 years behind bars, Miller is one of many still waiting for a ticket home.
‘Con Air’ Is Spreading COVID-19 All Over the Federal Prison System
U.S. Marshals are transporting prisoners without testing them for coronavirus
Witnesses to the Execution
An oral history of the first federal execution under Donald Trump, as told by victims’ relatives, prison staff, and others.
“I Begged Them To Let Me Die”: How Federal Prisons Became Coronavirus Death Traps.
The Bureau of Prisons was unprepared and slow to respond. Then officials took steps that helped spread the virus.
Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort Got to Leave Federal Prison Due to COVID-19. They’re The Exception.
Just a small fraction of federal prisoners have been sent home. Many others lack legal help and connections to make their case.
Photos Show No Social Distancing In Federal Halfway House
A new lawsuit says crowded meals and dorms increase coronavirus risk.
What Women Dying In Prison From COVID-19 Tell Us About Female Incarceration
Fatal victims illuminate women’s unique problems in prison, and the all-too-common ways they get there in the first place.
Why Did It Take the Feds Weeks to Report COVID-19 Cases In Privately Run Prisons?
The Bureau of Prisons reports 110 confirmed cases among 17,000 prisoners—and that may be an undercount.
Texas Prison Officers: We Asked For Face Masks In 2017. COVID-19 Got Here First.
A state spokesman says the system has more than 100,000 N95 masks, but it’s unclear how many have been given to officers or prisoners.
What Happens When More Than 300,000 Prisoners Are Locked Down?
The United States is about to find out as officials struggle to contain the coronavirus.
Federal Prison Factories Kept Running as Coronavirus Spread
Prisoners made furniture and license plates during the pandemic, according to workers and families. Some plants are now making face masks.
Coronavirus Ended His Shot at a Second Chance
The case of Patrick Jones, the first federal prisoner to die from COVID-19, epitomizes national debates about criminal justice reform.
Federal Prisons Agency “Put Staff in Harm’s Way” of Coronavirus
Orders at Oakdale in Louisiana help explain COVID-19 spread.
Coronavirus Restrictions Stoke Tensions in Lock-ups Across U.S.
As COVID-19 fear grows among prisoners and guards, concerns rise about possible unrest.
How Bill Barr’s COVID-19 Prisoner Release Plan Could Favor White People
Only 7 percent of black men would be deemed low-risk enough to get out using the federal prison system’s risk assessment tool, according to an analysis.
A Thirst for Justice
“They booked me into a cell where there was a paper sign over the toilet saying DON’T DRINK THE WATER.”
Want to Time Travel Back to the 80s? Visit a Prison “Typing Room”
“The typing room is where the optimism of naive, hopeful, recently incarcerated inmates goes to die.”
Epstein’s Death Highlights A Staffing Crisis in Federal Prisons
A hiring freeze by the Trump administration shrank the federal prison workforce at twice the rate of the declining prison population.
Money-Making Schemes That Ensnare Prisoners and Their Families
If it sounds too good to be true, legal experts say, it probably is.
First Step Offers Release for Some Prisoners—But Not Non-Citizens
About 750 federal inmates will be transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody starting in mid-July.
White House Pushing to Help Prisoners Before Their Release
Officials are trying to line up jobs and housing for 2,200 inmates who are scheduled to be freed in July under the First Step Act.
I'm in Prison During the Shutdown. I Didn't Get "Holiday Steak."
There will be beans (there's always beans). And half of a chicken.
What the Government Shutdown Looks Like Inside Federal Prisons
Family visits canceled, guards driving for Uber, rising tensions and more.
Treatment Denied: The Mental Health Crisis in Federal Prisons
The Bureau of Prisons set higher standards for psychiatric care. But instead of helping more inmates, the agency dropped thousands from its caseload, data shows.
The Bureau of Prisons Yields to a Chaplain’s Conscience
The bureau relents in a stalemate over pepper spray.
Federal Prisons Don’t Even Try to Rehabilitate the Undocumented
The Bureau of Prisons fails to provide basic resources to undocumented prisoners.
Federal Watchdog Finds Mentally Ill Are Stuck in Solitary
A new report contradicts a claim from the Bureau of Prisons.
Where Crossword Puzzles Count as Counseling
A new lawsuit alleges poor care for mentally ill inmates at one of the highest security prisons in the country.
What Are Inmates Learning in Prison? Not Much.
A new survey of 2,000 federal prisoners reveals big gaps in teaching reentry skills.
How America’s Most Famous Federal Prison Faced a Dirty Secret
The case that awakened us to the mental health trauma of “Supermax”
28 Days in Chains
In this federal prison, inmates have a choice: live with a violent cellmate or end up in shackles.
Death by Indifference
Remembering Robert Knott, a case the Justice Department would rather you forget
There Are Practically No Juveniles in Federal Prison — Here’s Why
Obama takes bold action, but for a population of fewer than 30
What You Need to Know About the New Federal Prisoner Release
Five reasons it is (and is not) a big deal.
Adding Pepper Spray to the Prison Arsenal
A new Human Rights Watch report assesses use of force behind bars.
Older Prisoners, Higher Costs
A tough, new report says it’s time for federal prisons to release the elderly and infirm.
Another Kind of Isolation
The Bureau of Prisons tightens the rules at its secretive “Communication Management Units.”