The Freedom Reads team packs books for the Inside Literary Prize. (Photo: Keenan Hochschild)

Inside Literary Prize

The first major US literary prize awarded by incarcerated people.

In December 2023, Freedom Reads, the National Book Foundation, and the Center for Justice Innovation, with support from Lori Feathers, launched the Inside Literary Prize, which seeks to honor the insights incarcerated readers add to cultural conversations.

The first Prize will be awarded in June 2024 by a jury of hundreds of incarcerated readers from 12 prisons in six states — Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, and North Dakota — to one of the four shortlisted books under consideration. 

This spring, the Freedom Reads team is visiting all 12 prisons to lead live discussions of the books, conduct voting, and host literary readings with acclaimed writers and poets, including Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Roger Bonair-Agard, Randall Horton, Douglas Kearney, and Reginald Dwayne Betts.

Reading is such an integral part of my life and when I come across bright minds who share a love of literature I light up with enthusiasm. Novels and writing have led me to many impromptu book clubs with the most interesting people filled with suggestions, reviews, and unlikely friendships.

Ramell, Freedom Library Patron at Correctional Training Facility, California