Leondrei Prince, serving an 8-year term in a Delaware state prison on a drug charge, has had three books published and has written nine other manuscripts the strong, often profane language of the inner-city streets where he grew up, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I knew that when I got out, I couldn’t go back to selling drugs, and I wouldn’t be able to get a job,” said Prince, 33, “so I started looking at writing as a job. But this has exceeded all my expectations.”
Books by inmates, both current and former, are an increasingly lucrative segment of the fast-growing genre known as “street lit,” “ghetto lit,” “urban” or “hip-hop” fiction. In many prisons, men and women on lockdown are spending their hours of solitude putting pens to yellow pads and finding words to describe the lives of poverty and excess that put them on a path to the slammer. “Right now it’s the biggest fad in prison,” said agent Joseph Jones, who signed Prince while they were both serving time in Delaware. “The biggest drug dealer, the smallest crook, they’re writing books.” The results are titles such as Dangerously Insured, by Shafeeq (Reginald Johnson), a Pennsylvania inmate, and Thugs and the Women Who Love Them, by Wahida Clark, a Trenton woman locked up at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in W. Va.