Thanks to Doc Berman over at Sentencing Law And Policy for picking this piece up about Prison Talk. We've been members for quite awhile and this site is a remarkable resource for people who are dealing with the system.
NY TIMES _ Prison Talk, a big board with nearly 150,000 members and 2,500 regular readers a day, is a case in point. It caters to what turns out to be an underserved consumer niche: family and friends of the incarcerated. Prison inmates, whose Internet access is extremely limited, also turn up periodically, usually seeking pen pals through a third party. The site, which costs nothing to join, was founded seven years ago and has drawn around 3.5 million messages, including poetry, small talk, business deals, memoirs, sermons, laments, photo albums and ideological screeds. Like the sprawling American prison system itself, the board has come to constitute a robust social reality — albeit one whose contents can’t be searched with Google or other engines, since Prison Talk is closed to the unregistered.The board’s activity is propelled by the frustration and enterprise of lonelyhearts who crave contact while fighting boredom and despair. The postings, including those from former inmates, dramatize the widespread effects of imprisonment as vividly as any book since the 2000 exposé “Newjack,” Ted Conover’s chronicle of his year working as a corrections officer in Sing Sing, the maximum-security state prison in New York.
NY TIMES MAGAZINE