About the Journal

Journal History

Since 1988, the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons (JPP) has been a prisoner written, academically oriented and peer reviewed, non-profit journal, based on the tradition of the penal press. It brings the knowledge produced by prison writers together with academic arguments to enlighten public discourse about the current state of carceral institutions. This is particularly important because with few exceptions, definitions of deviance and constructions of those participating in these defined acts are incompletely created by social scientists, media representatives, politicians and those in the legal community. These analyses most often promote self-serving interests, omit the voices of those most affected, and facilitate repressive and reactionary penal policies and practices. As a result, the JPP attempts to acknowledge the accounts, experiences, and criticisms of the criminalized by providing an educational forum that allows women and men to participate in the development of research that concerns them directly. In an age where `crime` has become lucrative and exploitable, the JPP exists as an important alternate source of information that competes with popularly held stereotypes and misconceptions about those who are currently, or those who have in the past, faced the deprivation of liberty.

Focus and Scope

Any JPP issue may include the following content:

  • Cover Art: The JPP has included prisoner submitted art for covers. Art itself is an expression of identity, much like writing, and can act as a means of resistance (See Ghunna 1996-1997; JPP 7:1).

  • Editor's Introduction: Allows the primary editor(s) to put the articles into perspective, contextualize the issue, and comment on the status of the journal, along with the discourse it has and continues to produce (See Davidson 1988/89; JPP 1:2).

  • Prisoner Written Articles: The JPP and the prisoners involved have worked exceptionally hard over the years to produce articles. One can imagine the obstacles and barriers faced. Writers are often passionate, and relate their accounts and experiences in ways filled with remarkable strength, courage, and insight that transcend the academic, forcing readers to challenge their ideas surrounding 'criminal justice' and social control (See Bourque 1989; JPP 1:1). 

  • The  Response section allows for editors, board members and prisoners to relate issues of concern, reflections, and thoughts to one another, enhancing the collaborative process the JPP tries to undertake. Over time, prison writers, editorial staff and JPP board have used the section as a vehicle to communicate and educate each other about the manifestations, nature, and realities of incarceration. This section has primarily been written by non-prisoners (fellow travelers) (See Gaucher 1993; JPP 4:2). 

* * *

The JPP contains other sections that have appeared on numerous occasions, 
although they have not remained as consistent as the other four

  • The Prisoners' Struggles section started in Volume (2:2) as a feature that allowed prisoners to help gain support while incarcerated. Struggle, whatever form it may take, is resistance against oppression. Writings in the Prisoners' Struggles section expose how the prison-industrial complex feeds off of and reproduces oppression of prisoners, but also often indicates how oppression can be resisted. This section sometimes will include writings by organizations on the outside that are involved in outreach and solidarity work. 

  • The Book Review section is open for prisoners, former prisoners, and fellow travellers to participate in the critical analysis of books written by academics and prisoner-written publications. 

  • Reply/Interchange/Dialogue: These sections have appeared on different occasions, with contributors replying to each other or interchanging discourse amongst one another on a given topic (See 2009; JPP 18:1&2).

Peer Review Process

Current and former prisoners are encouraged to submit original papers, collaborative essays, discussions transcribed from tape, book reviews, and photo or graphic essays that have not been published elsewhere. The Journal does not usually publish fiction or poetry. The Journal will publish articles in either French or English. Articles should be no longer than 20 pages typed and double-spaced or legibly handwritten. Electronic submissions are gratefully received. Writers may elect to write anonymously or under a pseudonym. For references cited in an article, the writer should attempt to provide the necessary bibliographic information. Refer to the references cited in our most recent issue for examples. Submissions are reviewed by members of the Editorial Board. Selected articles are corrected for composition and returned to the authors for their approval before publication. Papers not selected are returned with editor’s comments. Revised papers may be resubmitted. Please submit bibliographical and contact information, to be published alongside articles unless otherwise indicated.

Open Access Policy

This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

Support the Journal by Purchasing a Print Subcription or Issues

Click here to subscribe or order printed copies of the JPP through the University of Ottawa Press. Your purcharse will help support the JPP as it relies exclusively on sales. The journal began as and remains a non-profit pursuit with everybody involved volunteering their time. We have no state ties and do not rely on any direct funding from outside sources. This is important, as it limits interference, providing prisoner ethnographers and editorial staff with the opportunity to maintain the vision and integrity of the publication. Although this allows for creative freedom, it does bring considerable financial constraints, particularly in recent years where we have made much of our content available via open-access to increase the publication's readership and reach. We thank our readers for supporting this project.