8th Day of Christmas: The Marshall Project, and More on Criminal Justice

You probably know I’ve developed a pretty keen interest in criminal justice issues. Through my ministry inside the Iowa women’s prison through Women at the Well, a yearning for greater justice is a matter of daily concern. For those of you who share this interest, I want to make sure you’re aware of The Marshall Project, a daily news roundup on criminal justice issues, along with some other resources that may be of interest.

  1.  The Marshall Project (TMP)

The Marshall Project calls itself “nonprofit journalism about criminal justice.”  You can go to their website to sign up for a daily and/or weekly digest of news from around the country that connects with criminal justice reform, recent court decisions, and more. In addition to collecting news from across the web, TMP journalists do some original reporting on matters that aren’t getting attention.  Like their recent article about care packages.  Or this one from last summer, about how differently killings are deemed “justifiable” depending on the races of the people involved.  

When I open my daily TMP e-mail, I am amazed at how much news there is on these subjects.  In the nearly seven years I have been directly engaged in this work, I have watched criminal justice reporting take a much more significant place in the news. This is partly because of important efforts toward criminal justice reform, but it’s also because our nation’s prisons and jails stand at the epicenter of issues that have consumed much public attention in recent years, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, mental illness, addiction, domestic violence, sexual assault, gun violence, policing, poverty, jobs and opportunity.  What happens in our streets affects our prisons, and vice versa. TMP helps me see, on a daily basis, the many ways these matters play themselves out, and how they affect the women I have come to know and love at the prison.


2. Ear Hustle podcast.

Ear Hustle is a podcast that started last summer, with stories of life in prison–the San Quentin prison, to be precise.  It’s actually produced and narrated by men incarcerated there.  The stories told there are interesting but quite different from what I hear from our Iowa women’s prison.  Even so, they do something that is so important:  they humanize the people you meet through those stories.  It makes a difference when we begin to know something about these people that have been so distant.  We can’t love what and who we don’t know.  But we Christians are called to love!  When we hear people’s stories, we begin to know something of their lives and their hearts.  We may not understand everything we hear or agree with all their choices, but we will likely discover that we have more in common than we ever imagined.

Ear Hustle moves in that direction.  I hope you’ll check it out.

3.  The Prison Lectionary Project.

If Ear Hustle is about stories of our incarcerated brothers (and sisters), the Prison Lectionary Project is about how incarcerated persons think and, in particular, how they think about the Bible.  This web site includes reflections, art, sermons, devotions and poetry–all created by persons who are incarcerated, “the most authoritative witnesses to incarceration.”  I am excited about any resource that amplifies the voices of persons who are incarcerated.  I have known so many women in prison who have found their voice there.

Reading the Bible from within prison yields a whole new perspective, much of the time.  The Prison Lectionary Project is a helpful resource for us to see that more clearly.

4.  Women at the Well Christmas Open House skits!

For our recent Christmas Open House, sponsored through Women at the Well on December 15, 2017, some of our leaders took it upon themselves to write some Christmas-themed skits.  Without prior coordination, they ended up writing two skits on a common theme:  the angels working on plans for Jesus’ arrival on earth.  One skit was written by Anna and Sarah, and the other was written by Kristi, and all of them have given me permission to share their work here.  Enjoy!


Scroll down or click for the first 7 days of Christmas:

Day 7:  Better Brella

Day 6:  Spotify

Day 5:  “When God Is a Child”

Day 4:  Kindreds podcast

Day 3:  Air fryer

Day 2:  Becoming a Patr(e)on

Day 1:  LeVar Burton Reads

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