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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 25
Between being sober, getting a visit and having a surprise feast with the mean girls in my unit, I still cherish that day.
Life Inside November 20
In 1994, at age 14, Derrick Hardaway took part in the murder of an 11-year-old. The media used the crime to build the myth of the superpredator—and stuck him with a label he’s still trying to shed.
Life Inside November 5
I once surveyed a plot of land for a future prison. Now I live in one.
Life Inside October 29
The latest COVID-19 surge is happening behind bars, too. Here’s three accounts from an upstate New York prison hit by the pandemic.
Life Inside October 23
Between a strained relationship with my family and the death of a good friend, I’ve struggled to feel like I’m worth something.
Life Inside October 1
I first joined the San Quentin fire department to get my own room, eat well and train dogs. It ended up being the most important experience of my life.
Life Inside September 24
After two decades in a single-person cell, I moved to an open dorm with 30 other men. Between the smells, stress and lack of privacy, I was happy to spend time in solitary confinement.
Life Inside September 17
After serving more than 21 years for a crime he committed at age 15, Angel Alejandro was reintroducing himself to his family. Then the virus took three relatives.
Life Inside September 10
My brother committed suicide because he felt totally alone. As a volunteer social worker at a jail, I can let even the most judged people know that someone cares.
Life Inside September 3
I asked a drug court to send me to jail to get stabilized. But when the jail refused to give me my Suboxone, everything came crashing down.