In 2017, it was recorded that there were over 2.3 million people incarcerated and the United States is known to be the country with the highest incarceration. Many people have their own beliefs about incarceration, some disagree with people not being in jail for the right reasons or not for enough time or vise versa. Some people raise awareness or disregard the way of life for prisoners in their conditions. American Prison Writing Archive is a website that holds thousands of imprisoned people or prison staff’s experiences. It’s a site to educate outsiders on the indifference of people incarcerated. It’s main goal is to replace misrepresentation of imprisoned people and prison workers with thousands of first hand experiences.
American Prison Writing Archive was founded by writer Doran Larson who had an interest in this topic and started to pursue it in 2006. Not until 2012 did the archive become a discussion from receiving many essays and in 2014 few selected essays were published in Larson’s book called Fourth City: Essays From the Prison in America. With millions of people in prisons and many stories untold, essays never stopped coming in to Larson. Instead of letting these stories go unread, Larson created APWA. By 2017 Larson was awarded $262,000 by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NEH is an independent federal agency of the United States government that supports research and education in the humanities. Both Larson and NEH had hope to destroy the disconnect between American’s outside and inside prisons. Part of the money is to continue to let people see the stories and another part of the money is to create an online tool that allows anyone to transcribe essays. Something that stood out to me was with the thousands of essays they receive, they are all categorized so that they can be found easier. There are categories such as ethnicity, gender, religion, different states, etc. With these thousands of essays, the same emerging themes are known to be staff violence, neglect and abuse at home, drug and alcohol addiction, and police aggression. Questions I have regarding this archive are who is reading these essays, are they all being read, and if there are ones that are ever denied from being put on the website.