Today on the Menu: Letters From Prison, and the Man Behind Them

By Matt Van Hoven 

Imagine for a moment you’re in a prison cell. You’re facing 20 years behind steel bars for killing someone with your car (or, whatever). You have little connection to the outside world and every day is a struggle to maintain your sanity, life. From the masochistic prison system including guards and wardens and inmates to the knowledge that when you get out (if you get you) nothing will be how you left it, especially your life.

You’ve done wrong; maybe you admit it, maybe you don’t. But you have thoughts about all of this, and other things, but can’t confide in anyone here. Your regular psychiatric visits seem cold and thoughtless. If only you could write to someone outside who would just read your thoughts. Even if nothing comes of it, to have someone read them and maybe help you clarify them, turn them into something useful. Wouldn’t that be something? PEN America makes that happen, supporting inmates with a coaching program aimed at improving the writing skills of America’s incarcerated. Today we interview Jackson Taylor, who has helped this program reach the nations many millions of forgotten inmates since the late 80s.

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