Incarceration Nation

Behind the Bars. Stories from the Slammer.

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This Former Inmate Is Fighting for Every Prisoner’s Right to a College Degree

After budget cuts gutted prison higher-ed programs, Cheryl Wilkins demanded the chance to learn behind bars. Now she’s making sure others get the same life-changing opportunity.

The Prison Where Inmates Help Each Other Die With Dignity

More Americans are dying behind bars than ever before. At one correctional facility, volunteer death-doulas offer care and comfort to their fellow prisoners.


This Tiny Box Can Keep 1 in 4 American Adults Out of Work

After being released from prison, they were eager to find employment and get their lives back on track. But on countless job applications, one simple question stood in their way.

What It’s Really Like When a Prison ‘Lifer’ Gets a New Shot at Life

Ricardo Sapienza served 25 years for a crime he swears he didn’t commit. But his hardest challenge began the day the parole board finally said “yes.”


They Couldn’t Afford a Haircut. This Former Inmate Changed That.

Adrian Swearengen almost gave up on life after years behind bars. Now he’s found new purpose offering free snips and shaves to former inmates and others in need.

This Native American Cowboy is Turning Up the Heat in Wyoming’s Prisons—And the Inmates Love It.

“Grandpa Willie” LeClair has tamed bucking broncos and prayed at the Vatican. But he found his calling guiding inmates into sweat lodges to spill their regrets and fears.

How Uncle Billy Saved My Family—By Going to the Slammer

He was an addict, a thief and a perpetual prisoner. He was also my hero.

Where Jail Has No Bars

At one Idaho correctional facility, guards love coming to work, inmates are encouraged to succeed, and the result is a jail that looks nothing like the ones on TV.


The Extraordinary Story of Prisoner 16389067

While serving five years behind bars for drug charges, Jesse Krimes found an outlet for his emotions via one epically ambitious artwork—reassembled piece by piece on the outside.