Epidemics, Social Welfare, and “Condition of England” Literature

Benjamin Schacht // When an epidemic sweeps a community—or a pandemic sweeps the globe—the health, but equally the living conditions and resources of others suddenly take on an existential significance. The Covid-19 pandemic has recently made this significance plain in a particularly dramatic way, but long before early 2020, the observation that illness signifies our…

Lucid Dreaming: The Unexpected Drawbacks

Manaal Siddiqui // An expansive hall full of laughter, jeers and people running and jumping. Fluorescent lights bounce off the walls. All different colors. Pink, yellow, red, purple. A young woman realizes that she is present amidst the chaos. She feels queasy, not sure how to handle the fact that her family is casting spells…

A Model for Humble Commitment in Medicine

Vishesh Jain // Ostensibly, Wintersmith is a novel about witches. It follows young Tiffany Aching as she works as an apprentice and learns how to manage the vast and unexpected responsibilities of witchcraft. The reader, like Tiffany, may expect magic spells and supernatural phenomena to fill her life, but these constitute a fraction of her…

How 27 Years in Prison Prepared Me for Coronavirus

Lawrence Bartley // If there’s one thing people who spent a long time in prison have acquired, it’s the ability to adapt. Originally published in The Marshall Project on April 7, 2020. Republished with permission from the author. When I need to go to my local supermarket, I suit up with latex gloves I got…

Displaced and Confined: Impossible Subjects and the Politics of Abolition in COVID-19 Times

Martha Balaguera[1] // The COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on the paradoxes of our time. Consider the great vulnerabilities of so-called “essential” workers in farms, factories, hospitals, schools, daycares, slaughterhouses, delivery warehouses, as well as in marginalized “hot-spot” neighborhoods of segregated urban areas. At the same time, vulnerable groups with essential needs of international…

LOOKING INSIDE: Portraits of Women Serving Life Sentences

Sara Bennett // More than 200,000 people in the United States are serving life sentences, a punishment that barely exists in other Western countries. I’ve long believed that if judges, prosecutors, and legislators could see people convicted of serious crimes as individual human beings, they would rethink the policies that lock them away forever. Before…

Arrogance and Hubris

Boudicca // This essay was originally published in Scalawag and is reprinted here courtesy of Exchange for Change. Several similar first-person accounts of COVID-19 in prison will appear in the forthcoming anthology Hear Us. We watched the inexorable spread of COVID-19 on World News Tonight. Still, it did not make much of an impression on the…

COVID-19 and the American Correctional System: Too Little, Too Late

Khalil A. Cumberbatch // More than a year after the coronavirus began extending its deadly reach around the globe, we have begun to take stock of lessons learned. From the proper use of masks to testing standards, social distancing norms, and vaccination distribution, our society has adapted well to the necessary realities of surviving a…