MIT Center for Civic Media | Innovating civic media tools and practices together with communities
Between the Bars
Between the Bars, the blogging platform for people in prison, now has over 500 bloggers who have published nearly 8000 posts, each originating from postal mail. From heartfelt letters to their family to heartening stories of determination, the writers continue to inspire, delight, and provide a unique and personal insight into life in the world’s largest incarceration system. Through this work we seek to interrupt the destructive isolation of prisons through a public, online conversation.
In the last year, Between the Bars has begun the process of spinning out from the Center for Civic Media by incorporating as a non-profit. We’re seeking new models for revenue, growth, and impact, including partnerships with other organizations campaigning to end mass incarceration. Letters we received as part of the “Phone Justice” campaign, a long running effort by dozens of activist organizations, helped to pressure the FCC to recommend new rules reducing the extortionate cost of basic phone calls in prison in late 2012. This spring, we’ve also begun supporting the Papyrus Collective, a group of bloggers on Death Row in San Quentin who have organized to amplify their message. Over the summer we will be collaborating with the organization Working Narratives to collect poems from both our writers for a Prison Poetry Workshop. Nearly 100 writers will create new works in response to 9 prompts inspired by the poetry of those who have been or are incarcerated.