Photo by Peter Merts

Our Mission

Prison Journalism Project’s mission is to train incarcerated writers and those in communities affected by incarceration to be journalists and publish their stories. We aim to create the first nationwide network of incarcerated correspondents. 

 We believe that the deep reforms necessary to fix the U.S. criminal legal system can only happen by shifting the narrative. Intentional, responsible and well-crafted journalism from within the incarcerated community can break stereotypes, bring more transparency to a closed world and ultimately drive change.

Our Values

Inclusivity, transparency and collaboration are at the heart of every decision we make as an organization, as educators and as journalists. We uphold the principles of fairness, accountability, accuracy and independence to create responsible journalism.

Prison Journalism Project recognizes that our mission can only succeed if we are making space for everyone’s voices, perspectives and experiences in our work and our publication. We acknowledge the diversity that each person in our community — our writers, staff, volunteers, advisors and supporters — brings to the organization, and we embrace that richness in our journalism, education programs and outreach.

We also understand that values should evolve along with our organization and the broader society, and we commit to listening to our community and reviewing our values periodically, so it is not static.

Inclusivity: We seek to represent and acknowledge the many identities, experiences, environments and circumstances of currently incarcerated people, formerly incarcerated people, their families and friends and those who work in and around the prison system.

This includes — but is not limited to — ability, age (current age as well as the age people were incarcerated), citizenship status, education, ethnicity, gender, geographic location, incarceration status/length of sentence, location, language, nationality, nature of the crime, political affiliation, religion, race, sexuality, socioeconomic status and veteran status.

Prison Journalism Project commits to fostering an environment in which people of all identities are welcomed, valued and supported. We seek to create an organization with diverse voices and experiences that are representative of our society and the communities we serve. 

Transparency: Transparency is essential to creating a diverse, equitable and trustworthy organization. We acknowledge that we are working with a community where its members are easily exploited. We are also supporting journalism in an environment with limited access to outside sources, working with writers who, for the most part, have not been traditionally trained in journalism prior to their involvement with Prison Journalism Project. We are seeking to build trust with mainstream publications, who may lack experience working with incarcerated writers.

PJP commits to full transparency in the way we run our organization as well as in our editorial and educational processes and the content we publish.

Collaboration: We believe that the work we do can only be strengthened by collaborating with others with shared interests and that our community benefits when like-minded organizations support each other.

We work with other publications to co-publish or share PJP stories to amplify our writers’ voices. We support our writers’ ambitions to publish outside of Prison Journalism Project. We support journalists who want to work with our writers. We work with educators to share curricula and enlist student and faculty volunteers. We also work with and support prison education programs and other advocates to promote journalism, journalism education, greater access and transparency within the criminal legal system.