Prison and crime are difficult subjects which impact people in very deep and personal ways. Emotions often run high and hot when dealing with those who have caused harm to others, or who feel they have been wronged. People in prison often feel powerless and crushed by a system that does little to help them, and victims of crimes often feel angry and vengeful toward those who hurt them.
These guidelines aim to help us foster a positive community to help everyone involved by dealing with the issues in constructive ways.
We encourage you to engage with the difficult subject of incarceration openly and honestly, and to leave comments that say what you feel. But we ask you to do so within these rules:
Writers love receiving comments – they often have very little opportunity to communicate with anyone in the outside world. Even a simple "thanks for your post" goes a long way.
If you notice any comment which violates these rules, don't hesitate to let us know right away.
Transcriptions make posts more accessible to readers with visual disabilities, search engines, and can help greatly in cases of difficult handwriting or poor typewriters. These style guidelines aim to help keep transcriptions consistent and accurate.
Keep in mind that most people in prison are writing without the benefit of spell-checkers, without which most of us are hopeless. That said, respect poetic license. Fix the most obvious errors, but if there's any doubt about whether it was intentional, stay faithful to the original.
If line breaks in the original are obviously structured (as in a poem or song), preserve the line breaks. For regular prose and paragraphs, allow the lines to wrap within paragraphs.
Occasionally, things get smudged, or the handwriting or typewriter doesn't read as clearly as it should. Replace illegible parts within words with [?], and longer sections or whole worlds with [illegible].
Add descriptions of photos, drawings, or other imagery in brackets, for example:
[Photo of a black man in his 30's wearing a white shirt, holding a small child]
If necessary for clarity, transcribers should add any additional notes needed to help a reader make sense of a transcription as a short note in brackets. However, such notes should be kept to a minimum.
If you find a transcription that does not meet these guidelines, please boldly edit it and correct it. If you have unanswered questions about transcribing, ask us!