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Our weekly "Life inside" newsletter delivers first-person essays from those who work or live in the criminal justice system. You can subscribe here to receive it in your inbox.
Please send pitches for Life Inside to or mail them to us. 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're a lawyer, prisoner, judge, victim, police officer, or otherwise work or live inside the system. Poetry, fiction, essays about experiences that are not directly related to criminal justice, and op-eds will not be accepted.
Our honor roll recognizing Kickstarter donors who generously supported Life Inside can be viewed here.
Life Inside September 19
“The runaways, the mobsters, the pimps—they saw me as someone credible, someone who didn’t judge them.”
Life Inside September 12
“They booked me into a cell where there was a paper sign over the toilet saying DON’T DRINK THE WATER.”
Life Inside September 5
“The typing room is where the optimism of naive, hopeful, recently incarcerated inmates goes to die.”
Life Inside August 29
“If you move the wrong way—ticket. You look the wrong way—ticket. Breathe—ticket.”
Life Inside August 22
“Together we prayed and talked about who this girl might have been—and who she might have become.”
Life Inside August 15
Highlights of prisoner travel include gang fights, overflowing toilets and two weeks shackled to a neo-Nazi.
Life Inside August 8
“Down in a wastewater-treatment pit, I kept furiously shoving the black liquid toward the pump, with a squeegee.”
Life Inside August 1
A man convicted of murder reflects on his life, his crime and his punishment.
Life Inside July 25
“Anyone not touched by the system was unlikely to understand: Going to jail actually marks a story’s beginning.”
Life Inside July 18
“What neither of us knew was that coming to prison would create new worlds for me to build.”