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Life Inside

“Life Inside” is a weekly series of first-person essays from people who live or work in the criminal justice system.

We're looking for 1,000- to 1,400-word nonfiction pieces about a personal experience you’ve had with the system. We want slices of life rather than full autobiographies. Focus on telling a good story — one that is vivid, surprising, instructive or enlightening to a reader who may not share your frame of reference.

Our writers include people who are currently or formerly incarcerated and those on probation or parole. We also publish work by people who otherwise interact with or work in the system. This includes family members, crime victims, judges, lawyers, police and corrections officers, prison workers, educators, volunteers, social workers and retirees.

We don’t accept poetry, fiction, op-eds or essays that are not related to criminal justice. We don’t publish claims of innocence, and we don’t provide legal help or publicize advocacy campaigns.

To submit a piece, send us a short note introducing yourself and the piece you want us to publish. You can email it to or mail it to us.

Please note that we can’t respond to all the messages we receive. If we choose to work on a piece with you, there will be an editing process. Click here for answers to questions people ask us the most.