By Christopher Zoukis

While walking on my prison’s recreation yard yesterday, a man approached me.  He was a casual acquaintance and had questions about how to seek a publisher for a graphic novel that he’s been working on.  Since I do a lot of writing for prison-related outlets (e.g., https://www.prisonerresource.com/ and http://prisonlawblog.com), and used to teach a class on writing here at FCI Petersburg, I have lots of such discussions, even with complete strangers.  While I didn’t know much about publishing graphic novels, I agreed to look into the matter for the man and try to help guide him along in his path as an incarcerated writer.  It reminded me of when I first started writing from my prison cell.

As Americans, we are very used to having information at our fingertips.  Have a question?  Simply power on your laptop and Google it.  It really is that simple.  Don’t have a computer handy?  You could always pick up your cell phone and call someone to point you in the right direction or use your car’s GPS to direct you to your nearest public library.  But what if the library had few books (and almost all of which were trashy fiction)?  What if you didn’t have a car, or a cell phone, or even a computer?  What would you do to find the answer to a fairly simple question like how to publish a novel?

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With plenty of time on their hands, incarcerated inmates need a chance to be able to express themselves in a healthy and creative way. 

The Prison Writing Program, founded in 1971, works across the country to help bring pen, paper and instruction to hundreds of inmates willing to put their thoughts down on paper.  The Prison Writing Program believes in the rehabilitative power of the written word and the program wishes to provide a place where inmates can express them selves freely and to be able to share these thoughts with others. 

The Prison Writing Program provides skilled writing teachers and sponsors an annual writing contest, publishes a free handbook for prisoners, provides on-on-one mentoring to prisoners and seeks to ge the works either published or to be read aloud at literary readings. 

 

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