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“Life Inside” is a weekly series of first-person essays from people who live or work in the criminal justice system. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get it in your inbox.

We're looking for 1,000 to 1,400-word nonfiction stories about a vivid, surprising, personal experience you had with the system—whether you are currently or formerly incarcerated, on probation or parole, a family member of an incarcerated person, a victim, judge, lawyer or police officer, or you otherwise interact with the system.

We don’t accept poetry, fiction, op-eds and essays that are not related to criminal justice.

Email pitches to lifeinside@themarshallproject.org or mail them to us.

Please note that we are unable to respond to all of the pitches that we receive. If we’d like to work on a piece with you, there will be an editing process.

Life Inside February 11
“At the heart of our mental chess game lies a profound lesson: The difference between being content or distraught is a matter of perspective.”
Life Inside February 4
Strip-searching us for contraband is a perfectly legal way to rob incarcerated people of our humanity.
Life Inside January 28
After a steady diet of shows like “Oz,” I was convinced that prison would be a paradise for monsters. Turns out, the abuse I experienced came directly from the system.
Life Inside January 21
Doing time during a pandemic can mean fighting for your turn to wash your body or call your family. Inside one man’s battle with an inaudible loudspeaker, weary guards and a dysfunctional process.
Life Inside December 18, 2020
Rahsaan “New York” Thomas is barred from COVID-related release from San Quentin because his 20-year-old crime was violent. GoFundMe cancelled his legal defense campaign for the same reason. Here’s what it’s like to live with the scarlet letter V.
Life Inside December 10, 2020
“From time to time you hear someone shout something like, ‘Trump cannot be stopped!’ or, ‘Let’s get this White Nazi out of power!’ There is no gray area.”
Life Inside December 3, 2020
The racial slurs, dumb comments and news reports of hate violence have me on edge.
Life Inside November 25, 2020
Between being sober, getting a visit and having a surprise feast with the mean girls in my unit, I still cherish that day.
Life Inside November 20, 2020
In 1994, at age 14, Derrick Hardaway took part in the murder of an 11-year-old. The media used the crime to build the myth of the superpredator—and stuck him with a label he’s still trying to shed.
Life Inside November 5, 2020
I once surveyed a plot of land for a future prison. Now I live in one.