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How to Get a Job Writing for a Prison

Do you have a background in writing and an affinity for the English language? Do you have a genuine interest in the world of criminal justice and punishment? Do you feel that writing about crime and punishment can be an effective means of raising public awareness regarding this important issue? If so, then read on!

Raise Awareness

The world of criminal justice and punishment is a complicated one, spanning a variety of issues, circumstances, and problems. While there is plenty of room for subjective analysis and debate, there is also a great need for objective, rational discussion and analysis. As a writer, you have the opportunity to provide such analysis and discourse, and in so doing, raise public awareness regarding critical issues and current events related to the criminal justice system.

Provide Analysis

Writing for a prison presents a particular set of challenges and opportunities. For one thing, you will need to decide how best to phrase your articles in order to appeal to the largest audience possible. Furthermore, you are providing an analysis of an already highly politicized and contentious issue, so you must avoid any perceived slant in your writings. That being said, you have an opportunity to shed light on aspects of the criminal justice system that are often overlooked or underappreciated.

Be Creative

Since your readership is likely to be restricted to those imprisoned in some way or other for committing crimes, there is also the opportunity to be creative in your approach and to use your platform to highlight a diverse range of issues, many of which have far-reaching social, economic, and political ramifications. A successful collaboration with a publisher, in particular, can provide you with the financial stability to undertake more extensive investigative reporting and literary projects. Be sure to remain independent, however, and avoid any perceived bias or favoritism toward those accused of crime.

Make Money

In addition to creating a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, you are effectively doing the bidding of your editors and publishers. They represent the best chance for you to make some serious money. Offering reliable, researched information about criminal justice trends and issues can land you a steady stream of income. Never fear, the effort is worth it!

Get Inspired

As a writer for a prison, your job is to provide insight and analysis. However, that does not mean that you must visit the prisons themselves to garner authentic inspiration for your writings. Instead, you can find inspiration from many different places, including, but not limited to:

  • Personal experiences
  • Critical and transformative readings of literature
  • Journals, magazines, and blogs produced by and for activists, scholars, and journalists
  • Films, TV shows, and games
  • Familiarization with the workings of the criminal justice system

There are plenty of resources available to you, both within and outside of the prison system, which can provide you with ample material for compelling and original journalistic pieces. Furthermore, the world is your oyster when it comes to getting the story. Do not be afraid to look for inspiration elsewhere, as long as you can provide a convincing reason for doing so.

The Importance of Being Objective

One of the most important things for a journalist writing for a prison to keep in mind is objectivity. Simply put, you must remain impartial and avoid conveying any perceived bias or favoritism toward those accused of crime. Moreover, it is essential that you do not assume, nor should you ever assume, that those inside prisons are innocent until proven guilty. The onus is on you, the journalist, to present the facts objectively and leave the reader with a clear understanding of what actually transpired, regardless of the individual circumstances surrounding the crime.

Do Your Research

As a journalist who is interested in writing for a prison, you must do your research into this unique and fascinating world. It is no secret that prisons can be a contentious issue, especially when it comes to the treatment of those accused of crimes. Conducting primary research and interviewing relevant experts and authorities will give you the opportunity to present your audience with reliable and up to date information, leaving the door open for further, in-depth exploration into the workings of the criminal justice system.

Style & Tone

As a journalist who is interested in writing for a prison, you must develop a style and a tone that will make your articles relatable to a broad audience. Naturally, you must avoid using slang or ‘bad language’, as these could easily put your audience, as well as those you are writing for, off. Moreover, overly informal language can distract from the important issues at hand and could even suggest that you have some sort of relationship with those you are writing about, which could potentially harm your objectivity. Be certain to adopt a formal and measured tone throughout your articles, using relevant and established academic language.

With a little bit of effort and planning, you can make a lucrative career writing for prisons. You will need to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field, but that should not be too difficult as long as you are willing to put in the necessary research. Furthermore, you must ensure that your work is of a high quality and that you avoid any accusations of bias or incorrect facts. The reward, as we have discussed, will be worth it!