Hello worldI! I am one of “The Dozen,” as I like to call the first cohort of students for the PJP J-school, and I’m so excited for this opportunity. 

I’ve always been a writer. I started writing poetry as a teenager, and it was an outlet to work through feelings and emotions that consumed me. I had to get them out so they ended up on a piece of paper, and to my surprise, it was pretty good. 

As a young adult, I quickly realized I had a lot to say. I found myself straying from poetry and writing more academically. I’m now 27 years old and a dedicated journalist for the Prison Journalism Project.

A lot of people think writing is a deathly boring career and I won’t waste word space challenging them. It’s a writer’s thing. They wouldn’t understand, but the life of a writer isn’t entirely drab. Take me, for instance. Outside of writing, I plan events, coordinate recreational activities for my housing unit like game nights, fashion and talent shows, and poetry slams. I also design nails!

When I was sentenced to serve 15 years in the custody of the Georgia Department of Corrections at 16 years old, I abandoned all hope of having a meaningful life or earning a decent education, including my high school diploma. 

However, being a failure was not in the stars for me. Not only have I been able to earn my high school diploma through a charter school program, I’m now being given the opportunity to obtain the skills to be a successful journalist. This is #7 — as I like to call myself — reporting that there are great things to come from PJP J-school. Stay tuned.

ALL STORIES BY LADRINA JOHNSON

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