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Prison Story: When ‘Extraction Squad’ Comes for You

A former inmate at Pelican Bay State prison in California recounts being shackled, beaten with nightsticks and Tasered because he neglected to hand over a pack of coffee. The humiliation, he writes in an essay for The Beat Within prison writers’ workshop, was nearly as awful as the pain.


Breaking Good: How to Heal a Life Spent Behind Bars

Most prisoners on the verge of release focus on how to get back on their feet. But finding ways to contribute to the community matters much more—and ensures that they will never return to prison, writes a Washington State inmate as he awaits the outcome of his parole hearing.

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The Prison Scam That Leads to Violence

Getting a witness to recant testimony is a classic strategy employed by prisoners who have exhausted all their appeals. It never works, says a Washington State inmate—but when that witness is also behind bars, things can get ugly.

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‘Dear President Obama’

Letters by prison inmates to outgoing President Obama, written for The Beat Within prison writers workshop. One writer says, “You put ‘us’ on the map once and for all.”

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