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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.

While we have to be aware that any word we choose has influence, no amount of Googling will reveal the magic word that brings justice into American prisons.
Rahsaan Thomas, an imprisoned journalist, has long fought to change the way outside media describe people in prison. One of his toughest crowds? His fellow reporters.
Of course not everyone means harm when they use prison labels. But that doesn’t make the language any less damaging.
I didn’t always detest this term. But hearing officers use it as an insult reminded me to call incarcerated people — including myself — by our names.
As correctional officers, we are conditioned to call prisoners ‘inmates.’ But at Sing Sing, where I worked for 25 years, that was as bad as calling them a snitch.
Life Inside April 8
Oakland activist Carl Chan reveals how fear of retaliation, mistrust of police, language barriers and technology gaps fuel underreporting of anti-Asian violence.
Life Inside April 1
I escaped Donald Trump’s last-minute execution spree. Now I have to find a way to keep fighting.
Life Inside March 25
Between scant information, limited phone time and insensitive staff, prison compounded a profound loss.
Life Inside March 11
“I want to tell her I’m sorry for what he did, but I’m an inmate and she’s part of the administration.”
Life Inside March 4
In those moments when I feel like a puppet tied up in strings, I draw on my Muslim faith to stay hopeful.