Arts & Writing Resources for Prisoners
Please bear in mind that the bulk of the information in this guide is actually on the Internet. A short summary of each website clipped out for this list does not even begin to do each entry justice, and many of the items on this list actually contain further lists. The number of prisoner resources out there are mind boggling, so don't be afraid to use Google if there is something you have in mind.
A caveat to this list is that this is the age of COVID 19. Many of these sites are temporarily closed or scaled back for the duration of the pandemic. They are included in this list anyway in anticipation of better days.
Computers connected to the Internet are not generally available in prisons, so it is up to friends, family, and advisers to dig out the needed information from each website, or to shoot off emails where needed.
Finally, there are no websites that require money or a login to access. If you encounter any problems with this list, feel free to contact Helen.
Anthroposophical Prison Outreach Project
Anthroposophical Prison Outreach
1923 Geddes Avenue - Ann Arbor, MI 48104
1-734-662-9355 ext. 38
What is Anthroposophical Prison Outreach?
Anthroposophical Prison Outreach brings Rudolf Steiner’s work to incarcerated individuals. The APO program is designed to encourage inmates to take responsibility for their lives. The specific objective is to encourage and support self-rehabilitation through self discovery. As one participant described it: who would have thought I found my freedom while behind bars?. Once an incarcerated individual begins to balance his or her inner life, the outer life can also become more harmonious and meaningful. This increases their potential for successful re-integration into society after their release.
What is Anthroposophy?
The name anthroposophy was used by Rudolf Steiner to encompass his broad, holistic vision of spiritual renewal. The Greek origins of the word are anthropos (human being) and sophia (wisdom). It represents a path of individual spiritual awareness that is helpful to adherents of any religion as well as those who are not affiliated with any religion. It seeks to connect the spirit of the individual with the spiritual in the universe. Spiritual awareness is a matter of directing your attention. Higher understanding of life experience is the birthright of every human being. Anthroposophy is inclusive in nature, multicultural in outlook, community based, and respectful of all life. It encourages a life of spiritual practice and also offers spiritual approaches to many practical areas of life including education, farming, medicine and the arts.
Art Behind Bars Inc
Address: P.O. Box 2034
Key West, FL 33045 – 2034
Art Behind Bars is an art-based community service program that has a national call for artists on the inside to donate their work as a community service for use by other nonprofit organizations. All donated art is shown twice a year. Ex-prisoners are invited to submit art to Art After Bars at the same contact.
Professor Robert Johnson
Dept. of Justice, Law, and Criminology
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016
BleakHouse Publishing is an independent press devoted to creative writing, art, and photography on social justice. They regularly feature incarcerated people’s writing in their literary journal, Tacenda.
BleakHouse Publishing is an independent, not-for-profit press devoted to social justice. We publish creative writing that sheds a humane light on men and women entangled in the criminal justice system. Many of our published writers are current or former prisoners. The creativity and resilience of our authors reveal an often unacknowledged side of incarcerated Americans.
California Prison Focus
1904 Franklin St, Suite 507
Oakland, CA 94612
California Prison Focus works to amplify prisoners’ voices and shift harmful social narratives by disseminating their reports, letters and poetry, through Prison Focus, our Prison Focus radio program, our Get Out the Unheard Voices campaign and Liberate the Caged Voices project and social media. CPF receives and responds to nearly 2000 prisoner letters a year. CPF also offers a platform for the voices to our formerly imprisoned community members through the CPF Speakers Bureau, and by inviting them to speak at CPF’s Liberate the Caged Voices events, and on our radio program. Our direct communication and the relationships we build with our currently and formerly imprisoned allies is critical to the work we do.
Frieze Impact Prize
A new award recognizing artists’ role in the movement to end mass incarceration in the U.S. The purpose of the prize is to highlight the inequitable aspects of the criminal justice system and challenge its racially-biased public perceptions, with special consideration given to recognizing work by justice-involved artists.
The purpose of the Frieze Impact Prize is to expose the inequitable aspects of the criminal justice system and challenge its racially-biased public perceptions, with special consideration given to recognizing work by justice-involved artists. The Frieze Impact Prize will award $25,000 to an artist for a work of art that can contribute to the movement to end mass incarceration. Every applicant will submit one work they would like the jury to consider, and this one work and responses submitted on this form will form the main basis of the jury’s consideration of each applicant. Applications to the Frieze Impact Prize is open to any U.S.-based visual artist who is aged 18 or older, regardless of e.g. citizenship status, felony convictions, or formal training in art.
Iron City Magazine
mail submissions to:
Iron City Magazine
P.O. Box 370
Tempe, AZ 85280
Email submissions to:
Iron City Magazine is an online and print magazine devoted to writing and art from the prison world. It is our hope that through this creative platform, incarcerated writers and artists find value in their stories, fuel for personal growth, and pride in their accomplishments. Prisoners are, first and foremost, people. They own stories worthy of sharing.
Too often, prisoners' potential is forgotten or overshadowed by their crimes. Iron City Magazine reminds us that prisoners make meaningful contributions to our communities. By validating prisoners’ humanity through writing and art, we encourage a culture of understanding and transformation.
John Howard Association of Illinois
John Howard Association, P.O. Box 10042, Chicago, IL 60610-0042.
For all other inquiries, please contact Office Manager Dan Hoffman at:
Independent prison monitoring is the heart of JHA’s work.
Our staff and volunteers visit approximately 20 correctional facilities every year to evaluate conditions for prisoners and staff. During our observation visits, we focus on issues including medical and mental health care, disciplinary procedures, the physical condition of facilities, and educational and vocational programming. We point out concerns and problems and also highlight productive, innovative programs and initiatives that can serve as models for other facilities.
We publish periodic special reports highlighting case studies, stories and issues impacting our correctional system.
Each year, JHA receives thousands of letters from people who are incarcerated. Some of those letters contain poems, cartoons, or other pieces of art that incarcerated people wish to share with us. Incarcerated people also share other publications with us, including articles and magazines created for their peers.
Justice Arts Coalition
PO Box 8261
Silver Spring, MD 20907
What is a prison arts program?
Prison arts programming refers to arts-based workshops, projects, and courses offered in prisons, jails, juvenile detention centers, reentry, restorative justice, or diversion programs. Possible art forms include creative writing, poetry, visual art, dance, drama, and music. Yoga, meditation, and horticulture may also be considered prison arts programs. All of these art forms may also be combined into multi-disciplinary art programs.
Who offers these programs?
Prison arts programs are facilitated by a variety of people. This includes:
individuals, including volunteers, professional artists, teaching artists, students, professors, and people in prison
groups, organizations, and institutions, including voluntary groups, non-profit organizations, and universities
prison staff or individuals employed by a prison
partnerships across these various groups
Where do programs take place?
Art programs take place in prisons across the United States, from low security facilities to high security facilities. On this site, we have identified 48 states with prison arts programs. Please search by region and state to find programs.
Pen Prison Writing Program
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012
The PEN prison writing program provide hundreds of imprisoned writers across the country with free writing resources, skilled mentors, and audiences for their work. Its program supports free expression, and encourages the use of the written word as a legitimate form of power. In additional to mentoring, PEN publishes a national list of prison-based creative writing programs, sponsors an annual writing contest, publishes the free book Handbook for Writers In Prison, conducts workshops, and seeks to promote prisoners' work publicly through literary publications and readings. Serves writers nationally.
Prison Creative Arts Project
PCAP at University of Michigan
1801 East Quad
701 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1245
The Prison Creative Arts Project brings those impacted by the justice system and the University of Michigan community into artistic collaboration for mutual learning and growth.
We believe everyone has the capacity to create art.
We place human connection at the center of our process.
We join with community partners in the movement toward social justice through the arts.
We welcome all people who wish to join PCAP’s work into our community at the University of Michigan.
We recognize the power of diversity and of intersection between different parts of society to create learning opportunities.
We celebrate artists, writers, and performers at all skill levels and provide support for artistic growth.
Prison Health News
Prison Health News
4722 Baltimore Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Who We Are
This blog is the online companion to a print newsletter read by 5,000 people who are locked up in prisons across the United States. Prison Health News is produced by a Philadelphia-based collective of editors and includes the work of imprisoned artists and writers. Our readers are living inside a system that denies them prevention tools and treatment information about HIV, hepatitis, and other health issues. They are dealing with medical neglect, daily humiliations driven by intense stigma, and the destruction of their communities by mass imprisonment.
Find articles here on health topics, self-care in prison, organizing, and more to send to your loved ones inside and post on social media. And please donate generously so that we can continue to print and mail Prison Health News to those who need it.
Aging in Prison
Black and Latinx Communities
Filing a Lawsuit
Food and Nutrition
Get Better Care
High Blood Pressure
Loved Ones on the Outside
People Who Use Drugs
Pollution, Gas and Pepper Spray
Resources for People in Prison
Self-Care in Prison
Traumatic Brain Injury
PO BOX 1773
Avondale AZ 85323
Welcome to PrisonArte,
The site was originally created to showcase artwork created by Che. He was incarcerated for over 13 years (from 2004 to 2018) in a Colorado Prison. We met and became the best of friends and married in 2012. I was very lucky to be the recipient of beautiful artwork that I cherish and hold dear to my heart. Che wanted to help our home financially while also continue to give me emotional support as I ventured into new business ideas. I also wanted to help him by nurturing his love of arts and support his talent.
At the end of 2015, The Marshall Project included us in an article titled "The Marshall Project's Holiday Gift Guide". And by early 2016, our site went National and was added to the resource lists of State and Federal prisons throughout the United States. We currently represent over 8 different incarcerated artists in different state prisons and there is more to come!
We hope you enjoy the artwork we offer by talented artists. Please click on the store tab or view art by artist name. Also, check out the Just Arrived section
All artwork is sold to help these individuals and their families with the added costs of phone time, art supplies and more. Please remember that without our support these artists cannot afford to purchase materials and as we all know "idle hands are the devil's workshop" Proverbs 16:27
CTA / Durland Alternatives Library
PO Box #6556
Ithaca, NY 14851
You can contact us anytime by calling the Durland Alternatives Library at 607-255-6486
Prisoner Express creates an opportunity for incarcerated men and women to get information, education and a public forum for creative self-expression.
Through our newsletters and programs we step through the isolation and alienation of prison life – our goal is to bring hope and foster a sense of community among the prisoners who participate.
That’s how it began. From that point on we started sending books from the Durland Alternatives Library all over the United States. Once other volunteers got involved we started offering educational programs as well; history, math, and science, among other topics.
So many prisoners responded and wrote to say how they were going crazy from the strain of incarceration. Many of them were isolated like Danny – and the connection we were providing was clearly making a difference.
Our newsletters provided a way for prisoners to read each other’s writings. They provided a way for many prisoners to realize they were not alone – and through participation gained strength and understanding.
Rather than “going crazy” which is something hard to control, an awareness took hold that prisoners were in a crazy making environment. From this new understanding we could offer programs and tips on how to stay centered and balanced in difficult settings. Judging from the letters we received it was clear our programs were helping.
In just our second year we had over 500 people writing and I could not imagine how we would keep up – but we kept adapting and creating new programs. We began attracting volunteers and working to become as efficient as we could. Our goal has always been to provide low cost, high quality educational and creative programming for Prisoner Express subscribers.
1600 K St NW # 501
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202)- 393-1511
If you are a prisoner who has written a book, or would like to write a book, we want to publish it. All books on any subject are welcome. We do not screen or censor in any way, so you are free to write anything you wish. There is no charge to you to publish your book and no charge to anyone who wishes to read it.
Real Cost of Prisons Project
Real Cost of Prisons Project
5 Warfield Place
Northampton, MA 01060
The Real Cost of Prisons Project brings together justice activists, artists, researchers and women and men directly experiencing the impact of mass criminalization who are working to end the carceral state.
The Real Cost of Prisons Project is a national organization, begun in 2000. The RCPP created workshops, a website visited by 1,500 people a day and which includes extensive sections of writing and comix by prisoners. In 2005, we created and published three comic books: Prison Town: Paying the Price, Prisoners of the War on Drugs and Prisoners of a Hard Life: Women and Their Children. 135,000 free comic books have been sent to organizers, schools and prisoners throughout the country. The comic books are no longer in print but can be downloaded and printed from this website. The comic books are anthologized into the book, The Real Cost of Prisons Comix, published by PM Press.
The Real Cost of Prisons organizing focuses on ending extreme sentencing such as Life Without the Possibility of Parole and the daily harsh and damaging conditions of confinement faced by every prisoner in the United States.
In Massachusetts, the RCPP's recent work includes organizing to stop new jails, working for bail reform and advocating on behalf of alternatives to incarceration.
The RCPP is committed to bringing the ideas and analysis of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women to the forefront so we can more authentically challenge and change the destructive beliefs and costly systems that drive the carceral state.
3124 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705
Slingshot is a quarterly, independent, radical, newspaper published in the East Bay since 1988 by the Slingshot Collective. We also publish the annual Slingshot Organizer radical calendar planner. We are an all volunteer, non-profit, tax exempt project of the Long Haul.
Subscriptions are FREE to USA prisoners or USA low income persons — just let us know if you are either. Generally, we can’t afford to do free international copies, but of course you can ask for an exception.
We also send out FREE packages of the paper if you will distribute them for free to other folks in your area. You can be an individual, Infoshop, Food Not Bomb chapter or other organization, or a bookstore, or whatever. Just send us your mailing info.
Slingshot Newspaper is always on the lookout for writers, artists, editors, photographers, distributors and independent thinkers to help us put out this paper. If you have such skills and would like to contribute we’d greatly appreciate it. Photos of demos or of cool reworkings of the cultural landscape are especially welcome.
The Student Insurgent
1228 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403
Insurgent Prisoner Mail Project
The Insurgent mails out the newspaper to hundreds of prisoners across the country, and many of those prisoners respond with simple or complex asks, often for their essays to be transcribed, for their art to be uploaded and shared, or for additional newspapers. The Insurgent will need help processing and responding to these requests in the coming weeks. This project is in its growing phase, so patience with the process is appreciated, as is any expertise or advice. If you are interested in assisting in responding to and processing these letters and essays, whether you have experience corresponding to prisoners or not, please contact the Insurgent staff, and they will connect you with the other people working on this project.
The American Prison Writing Archive
198 College Hill Road, Clinton, NY 13323
The American Prison Writing Archive is a place where imprisoned people and prison staff can write about and document their experience. It is a site where all who live or work inside can bear witness to what is working and what is not inside American prisons, thus grounding public debate about the American prison crisis in lived experience.
The APWA is open to contributions by current and formerly incarcerated people, correctional officers, staff, administrators and volunteers. It is a virtual meeting place where we can learn from of all who live and work inside. The APWA is an open-source archive accessible to a global readership. It spreads the voices of unheard populations, thus increasing awareness and improving the ease with which we can all better educate ourselves about one of America's most powerful and most problematic institutions.
The Beat Within
P.O. Box 34310
San Francisco, CA 94134
The Beat Within’s mission is to provide incarcerated youth with consistent opportunity to share their ideas and life experiences in a safe space that encourages literacy, self-expression, some critical thinking skills, and healthy, supportive relationships with adults and their community. Outside of the juvenile justice system, The Beat Within partners with community organizations and individuals to bring resources to youth both inside and outside of detention. We are committed to being an effective bridge between youth who are locked up and the community that aims to support their progress towards a healthy, non-violent, and productive life.
The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons
Journal of Prisoners on Prisons
c/o Justin Piché, PhD
Department of Criminology
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Phone: (613) 562-5800 ext. 1812
Fax: (613) 562-5304
The Journal of Prisoners on Prisons (JPP) is a prisoner written, academically oriented and peer reviewed, non-profit journal, based on the tradition of the penal press. It brings the knowledge produced by prison writers together with academic arguments to enlighten public discourse about the current state of carceral institutions. This is particularly important because with few exceptions, definitions of deviance and constructions of those participating in these defined acts are incompletely created by social scientists, media representatives, politicians and those in the legal community. These analyses most often promote self-serving interests, omit the voices of those most affected, and facilitate repressive and reactionary penal policies and practices. As a result, the JPP attempts to acknowledge the accounts, experiences, and criticisms of the criminalized by providing an educational forum that allows women and men to participate in the development of research that concerns them directly. In an age where `crime` has become lucrative and exploitable, the JPP exists as an important alternate source of information that competes with popularly held stereotypes and misconceptions about those who are currently, or those who have in the past, faced the deprivation of liberty.
The Prisons Art Coalition
PO Box 47439
Seattle, WA 98146-7439
Phone: (206) 271-5003
Serving as an online hub for information and resources on arts in American prisons, the Prison Art Coalition is filled with resources, blogs, events and tools to support the various types of people and institutions affected by incarceration. As a leader in providing the necessary means to create programs and push the cause to the forefront, the PAC's mission stands to educate the public on why programs for inmates are so important not only to their futures, but for the community. The site is home to leaders in the field, prominent organizations and those who find they need an outlet to promote the cause of art programs in prisons.
The Prison Mirror
Minnesota Historical Society
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
The newspaper has served to help inmates develop their writing skills and gain experience in working on a publication. A report In the July 20, 1933 issue stated that "Most of the contributors to this paper entered prison with little or no knowledge of writing – fictionally or journalistically...The mere sight of their work in published form does more for these aspiring writers than could countless volumes." One editor said in 2017, "The population who we make the paper for, they view this as their outlet to be heard and want to see things that are important to them." Some writers for the Mirror went on to publish books, notably Frank Elli, who wrote The Riot, published in 1966 and made into a film in 1969. Author E. (Emil) Richard Johnson also served time at the prison and published several novels while incarcerated.
Throughout its long publication history, the Prison Mirror has been recognized by other newspapers for the quality of its writing and has won awards for the best prison newspaper in the United States several times. Special commemorative issues were published at the paper's centennial in 1987 and in 2012 on 125 years of publication.
Virtual Art As Resistance Gallery
Learn more and complete submission form: http://bit.ly/ArtAsResistanceGallery
The Art as Resistance Virtual Gallery seeks to highlight the creative contributions of individuals fighting for the opportunity to design their own freedom and liberation from within the confines of incarceration as well as within the confines that constrict from outside of the prison walls.
Submissions are open for this year’s Virtual Art As Resistance Gallery! The Art as Resistance Gallery will be associated with the ICJ’s Justice, Reentry and Healthcare Summit: Coming Together for Social Justice in Socially Distant Times, October 5-9, 2020. We would like to invite you to submit art for this year’s gallery and to share this Call For Art broadly with your networks. With everything happening in the world right now, the time is ripe for this conversation.
Please send us your submissions by no later than Monday, August 24! We are accepting a range of artwork including visual art, music, poetry, performance etc. If you can dream it, do it, and put it into a virtual format for showcase at a virtual conference setting, we want to show it to the world!
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND: You do not need to have the artwork FINISHED by August 24 – you simply have to submit descriptions of your artwork according to the form. We need the artwork FINISHED AND IN HAND by September 14, so we have a chance to get it uploaded to our virtual gallery and work out any technical issues. Please keep this in mind for your submissions.