Frequently Asked Questions

DO YOU ACCEPT ALL STORIES AND ART?

We accept work that sheds light on the world of mass incarceration. Keep in mind that PJP is focused on journalism. We will prioritize the publication of timely dispatches, articles, reported essays, illustrated journalism and narrative poetry. See our Writing Prompts section for more details. WE NO LONGER ACCEPT FICTION. 

As a general rule, wait for your story to be published before sending another. We cannot publish your entire output. Submissions must conform to our attached editorial policy. (We are not an advocacy organization and do not take on individual cases or participate in any fundraising efforts or petitions related to legal matters.)

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHAT TO PUBLISH?

When we receive submissions, PJP editors sort them based on priority. The pieces that are published the quickest are those that coincide with issues and topics that are relevant to people now (e.g. the spread of the Delta variant or a new criminal justice law). Or they might speak to a national holiday or an awareness month that is coming up. Then we look at stories about topics that PJP is specifically interested in (see PJP TOPICS in the Writing Prompts section) and stories with a powerful narrative. Stories with no time element that could be published months from now go out last. 

We aim to publish as much as we can, but we have become more selective out of necessity. We decline work that we don’t understand, lack focus or wouldn’t be relevant to our readers, who tend to support criminal and social justice reform but are not personally impacted themselves. If we decline a submission, we send an explanation, so you can try again. 

I’M INTERESTED IN JOURNALISM BUT DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START.

Request a free copy of our PJP journalism primer. You can learn how to describe a scene, get the most out of an interview and compose an op-ed opinion essay. We also offer a monthly training newsletter called The P.I.T. We also offer a correspondence journalism course through PJP J-school. Enrollment is invite-only based on your body of published work for PJP, so the best way to qualify is to write for us. (Note: We cover postage for any material we send out. DO NOT SEND US SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPES. WE CANNOT PROCESS THEM.)

WHO READS YOUR STORIES?

We think your news, information, and perspectives should be part of the public conversation about criminal justice, so we try to reach any reader who cares about social justice but has never been touched by incarceration themselves. We are active on social media, and we share stories with publications inside and outside the wall. 

DO YOU PAY FOR STORIES AND ART?

We currently pay $50 for the best story of the week as selected by a rotating judge among staff, volunteers and others. In addition, if we are able to co-publish your story with another publication that can pay for your work, you will receive 100% of that amount. PJP does not profit off your work. 

Starting in the fall, we hope to begin paying $25-$50 for stories and $100 for art that we commission (this means work that we have specifically asked for). We aim to eventually pay for every story or art work that we publish, and the co-executive directors have committed to not taking a salary until we can do so. In the meantime, we believe there is value in our training, editing and the effort we make to reach a wide audience. 

HOW CAN I READ PJP STORIES FROM THE INSIDE?

We are launching “PJP Inside,” a collection of our best stories with tips on how to improve your work in newspaper format. With funding, we aim to offer it at least twice a year. We also share stories with partners who distribute publications inside.

WHAT IS THE CONTRIBUTING WRITERS’ AND ARTISTS PROGRAM?

It is a program for our best artists and writers and allows them to formally associate themselves with PJP. We also consider them first for training, mentorship and other journalism opportunities. New contributing writers are vetted quarterly, and we extend invitations based on the quality of their work for PJP and their potential as a journalist. There is no application process. If you would like to be considered, keep writing for us. 

COULD PJP SEND BACK STORIES, PHOTOS OR ART THAT I SENT YOU?

Due to the sheer volume of submissions, we cannot return your written work. For art and photos, please be sparing in your requests to send work back. We will do our best to be responsive but know that requests may take 6-8 weeks to process. We cannot be responsible for work that is lost in transit. 

CAN YOU ADD MY NAME TO YOUR JPAY/CORRLINK/GTL ACCOUNT SO I CAN SEND MY WORK VIA EMAIL?

Yes! We encourage it. If you send us a request, we will add your name as soon as possible. Please allow 3-4 weeks to process. 

CAN YOU SEND ME STAMPS AND WRITING SUPPLIES?

Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to do so. 

IT’S BEEN EIGHT WEEKS, AND I HAVEN’T HEARD FROM YOU. WHAT DO I DO?

We have a large backlog of submissions, most of which needs to be transcribed before they are edited. If you do not see your story after 8-12 weeks, check in with us. Your submission may have been lost or we may simply be running behind. We appreciate your patience.

WHY DOES MY PUBLISHED STORY LOOK DIFFERENT THAN THE VERSION I SENT YOU?

We give your stories the kind of professional edit that outside writers and journalists receive from magazine editors and newspaper bureau chiefs. Sentences may be reworked, so they read better. Words or sentences may be cut because they are repetitive or they distract from a more powerful point. We also fix grammatical errors and rewrite to conform with the Associated Press and PJP stylebooks, so all stories have the same look and feel. We will cut out sections if we can’t understand them, if they violate PJP policy or if your story is too long.

I DON’T LIKE THE WAY MY STORY WAS EDITED.

Because of the sheer volume of submissions, we cannot re-edit a story once it is published, but if you would like your story taken down, you are welcome to submit a request. If an error was inserted in the editing process, notify us with an explanation of the correction, and we will fix it.

Download a PDF version of our complete Submission Guidelines.