Submission Guidelines

Who

Writers and artists who are incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, family members, corrections officers, prison educators and others involved in the criminal justice system or affected by the experience of prison or jail. We welcome submissions by first-time writers.

What

Articles, essays, poems, art and cartoons that incorporate firsthand observations and/or experiences. Our word count is 500 – 1,200 words (ideally 1,000 words or less). No more than ONE STORY or THREE POEMS per submission. We cannot publish work that we cannot understand. We do not publish stories that re-litigate individual cases. Submission categories include:

REPORTED NEWS AND FEATURES: Articles that tell people about things that actually happened based on reporting and research.

ESSAYS: Essays and memoirs about something you experienced or observed personally. 

OP-EDS: Opinion articles and commentary based on personal experience with a central point or a call to action.

NARRATIVE POETRY: No more than 3 poems that tell true stories.

PHOTO ESSAY: Up to 5 photos with 3-5 sentence captions describing the photo and the context. The photos should collectively tell a story.

ART & CARTOONS: Sketches, paintings, political cartoons and other art that illustrate a scene of prison life such as your cell, Chow Hall, places of worship, the Yard, etc. Please provide a caption explaining the intention behind the work or telling the story behind it.

Facts in your piece must be information you gathered firsthand, not speculation or information that you’ve obtained through someone else. Please read the editorial policy carefully. We reserve the right to exclude portions of your work that don’t conform to it. By submitting your work, you grant us and our collaborators/partners permission to publish an edited/condensed version of it on our site, but you own your work. We sometimes publish a part of your handwritten submission to accompany your piece. 

Submissions should include following: 

  • A header with your full name, prison ID#, address, date, word count and suggested title/headline for your piece. 
  • We prefer to publish under your full name because it makes you more credible as a journalist, but If you prefer a first name or pen name as your byline, include a request with a reason that can be added to your bio (e.g. fear of reprisal).
  • A 2-3 sentence bio to publish with your piece including your institution name and previously published work. We recommend mentioning your crime and sentence because it makes you more transparent and enhances your credibility. If you do not submit a bio, we will create a simple one with your location.
  • If possible, please send a photo to go with your bio (note different address below). Otherwise, we will substitute a graphic of your initials or the PJP logo. When

We accept stories on a rolling basis. You will receive an acknowledgement letter after we publish your submission with a copy of your story as it appears online and a packet that could include updated submissions info, training material or a selection of articles from other PJP writers.

When

We accept stories on a rolling basis. You will receive a copy of your story if we publish it on PJP. Please allow 8-12 weeks.

Where

JPay: pjp@prisonjournalismproject.org
E-mail: submissions@prisonjournalismproject.org (Send as a Google doc attachment. Filenames should include your last name)

Postal mail for WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS:

Prison Journalism Project
2093 Philadelphia Pike #1054
Claymont, DE 19703

Postal mail for PHOTOS AND ART: (Including a photo or yourself for your bio. DO NOT SEND stories to this address.)

Prison Journalism Project
3501 Southport Ave., #204
Chicago, IL 60657


Download a PDF version of our complete Submission Guidelines.