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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 November 18
On the outside, most discussions about incarceration and sexual desire are limited to exploitative “reality” shows, violent movies and terrible jokes about homosexuality and prison rape. But like all humans, we deserve some semblance of dignity.
Life Inside November 4
After decades in the system, I was acting like a wild horse roaming the countryside. Memo taught me how to paint through the chaos.
Life Inside October 21
Imprisoned for 25 years, Fred Weatherspoon was shocked to return to a Chicago he didn’t recognize. He found belonging in an unexpected way — working with vulnerable young people and their families.
As part of the settlement of Nuñez v. City of New York, a 2011 class-action lawsuit filed by Rikers Island detainees, federal monitors periodically report on use of force across the jail complex. This image from the Eleventh Report shows at least 12 officers in a recreational area responding to two detainees who refused to be handcuffed.
Life Inside October 5
Rikers Island has been notorious for violence and neglect for decades. But detainees, corrections officers and officials tell us the New York City jail complex has plunged into a new state of emergency.
Life Inside September 23
After cops beat my father to death, I wreaked havoc on my community.Three decades later, I wonder what my story would have been if he had lived.
Life Inside September 9
It doesn’t matter how American I feel. The labels applied to me are “foreign,” “terrorist,” “inmate” and “other.”
Life Inside August 26
“Sudden cardiac death,” is the cause listed on my uncle Bryan’s death certificate. But it didn’t feel sudden at all — not when you factor in his underlying mental and physical health problems, years of poor prison medical care and the fact that he caught COVID-19 in his Arizona jail.
Life Inside August 12
While Corey Devon Arthur was quarantining, people in the unit got tablets equipped with telephone apps. “If we all had the option to use a phone app, the value of violence would plunge,” he writes.
Life Inside July 29
This spring, a judge ruled that the healthcare at the Louisiana State Penitentiary violated prisoners’ Eighth Amendment rights. Lois Ratcliff tells the horrifying story of her son Farrell’s decline and death.
Life Inside July 15
His disrespectful classroom antics could have sparked a fight. But as a former “hard case” myself, I was determined to help him.