Lawrence Bartley once lived at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, a notorious maximum-security prison in Upstate New York. He was an inmate, of course, serving a sentence for second-degree murder, NBC News reports. When he was 17 years old, he was in a gunfight; the year was 1990.
After 27 years, Bartley is now on parole, and he is using his experiences in prison to do good. While he was an inmate at Sing Sing, he shared his story through “Voices From Within;” it’s a project that uses incarcerated men and women stories to help young people avoid criminal behavior.
Today, he works for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that tackles criminal justice issues, according to the article. He had the idea to create a magazine for the incarcerated that includes interesting stories.
New Inside, Prison
The Marshall Project’s News Inside is Mr. Bartley’s brainchild. His incarceration taught him about what people in prison needed and were being denied. He knew to avoid using stories that “incite unrest” and instead focus on giving prisoners hope and tools that help them believe in themselves.
“I’m just finding a way to reach back. And, on top of that, I’m trying to send a message to everyone incarcerated not to ask the public for sympathy. I don’t want anyone to believe that the public owes them anything and they can’t do anything without help from the public,” said Bartley. “I want them to believe that they can do it because they feel that they are valuable, they feel that they’re powerful in they own right, and they can do positive things by themselves.”
News Inside includes stories about how virtual reality is helping juvenile lifers adapt to the outside world upon release, the article reports. Other examples include Shakespeare in prison or to pilot programs helping rehabilitate young offenders.
“It was Lawrence’s brainchild because, having been incarcerated, he understood so keenly what incarcerated people were denied,” said Susan Chira, the Marshall Project’s editor-in-chief. “And I think that’s why it’s been so important to have him on our staff because he can help us reach a whole new audience who need work that’s written by people who know about the criminal justice system and who understand it in a deep and rigorous way.”
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