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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 13
“We took off his wrist restraints and gave him pen and paper. He drew up a storm.”
Life Inside February 6
When you’re in prison, outside sights and sounds can become cruel jokes.
Life Inside January 30
In a prison where 200 men share eight phones, making back-to-back calls is like challenging the guy behind you to a duel.
Life Inside January 23
“It can be exhausting to tell and retell your painful story just to get people to listen to you about other things.”
Life Inside January 9
“Time has made it abundantly clear that my ability to exercise patience—or not to—doesn’t sway it in the least.”
Life Inside December 19, 2019
Jenny Jimenez and her husband, Jesse, who is incarcerated in Illinois, have found creative ways to show each other love, especially around Christmas. Puzzle filters, nail clippers and Lifetime original movies are involved.
Life Inside December 12, 2019
I barely remember my birthplace, Jamaica, and I have no family left there. Frankly, I’m terrified.
Life Inside December 5
After my mother was diagnosed with cancer, she married the love of her life even though he was still behind bars. Then he got sick, too.
Life Inside November 25, 2019
“When the van pulls back up to the rear gates of the prison... it's almost a relief.”
Life Inside November 13, 2019
“It’s conflicting, I imagine, to hear how someone who once took a life thinks about living a good life.”