Content policy: PJP focuses on journalism and first person experiences that touch on prisons, incarceration, and the criminal justice system. Our audience is a broad general audience, including those who may never have been touched by incarceration. PJP’s news judgments are made independently, and we are committed to transparency about our editorial process. 

We do not accept work that falls under the following categories: 

  1. Pornographic or gratuitously violent (aim for PG-13 or R at the most)
  2. Contradicts known/proven facts (e.g., conspiracy theories about COVID-19)
  3. Re-victimizes individuals or justifies crimes (e.g., stories that justify rape or child pornography)
  4. Shows bias against an individual or a group based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, national origin or any other discriminatory characteristic. 
  5. Seeks to re-litigate or rehash individual cases 
  6. Accuses  a specific person, group or institution of wrongdoing without documented proof that can be examined by PJP editors. 
  7. Sermonizes, preaches, proselytizes or evangelizes about a particular religion or beliefs. We accept work that describes how faith has influenced lives and perspectives, but it must tell a story or provide information in a way that will appeal to a general audience. 
  8. Academic research papers
  9. Legal documents 
  10. We cannot understand (including work we cannot read because of unclear handwriting)

Data: Data that are not attributed to a source will be removed from stories or replaced by similar data researched by PJP staff. 

Disclaimer: To make clear PJP’s independence, all work is accompanied by the following statement: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. 

Fact-checking: Writers are responsible for checking the facts in their stories. 

Human Sources: Quotes and paraphrased assertions or observations by someone other than the writer must be attributed. The writer need not name the source, but  should disclose enough information for the reader to assess the source’s trustworthiness.

Use of racial slurs and other derogatory terms: PJP will not publish derogatory terms and racial slurs unless they are part of a quote and/or crucial to the understanding of the story or news event. When they are used, we will refer to such words with dashes except in the rarest of circumstances when a writer provides a compelling reason for spelling out the full word.

Verification of writers: PJP verifies the identity of writers on corrections department databases and other online searches. We may on occasion request another form of verification. 

Writers and Anonymity: Journalism is more credible if the writer is identified, but incarcerated writers sometimes face a risk of reprisal. In such cases PJP may withhold the writer’s identity or allow the use of initials, first name only or a pen name along with the reason. All writers must still provide their full names to PJP, but we will keep the identity confidential unless ordered by a court to disclose it. PJP will honor requests by writers, who wish to change their bylines to an anonymous one, after publication.