The New Press, a public interest book publisher, and the Center for American Progress (CAP), a public policy think tank, request submission of essays for consideration to be included for publication in a book featuring criminal justice reform ideas from formerly and currently incarcerated individuals.
The book has the working title of What We Know and is expected to be edited by Daryl Atkinson and Vivian Nixon, both formerly incarcerated individuals now leading criminal legal reform organizations. They are also members of the steering committee of the Formerly Incarcerated Convicted People’s Family Movement (FICPFM), a national effort to bring the voices of formerly incarcerated people and their families to the justice reform table.
Essays may be from 2500-5000 words and should be focused on a specific, serious, welldefined suggestion for how to improve a particular aspect of any part of our current system, from police encounters and arrests, to sentencing, incarceration, and re-entry. Essays should contain elements of the author’s personal story in service of illuminating the suggested reform. Thoughtful, original ideas that are not already widely in circulation and under discussion are especially welcome.
The top 12-20 essays will be published in the finished book, and the authors will receive $500 each. Authors of the top 50 essays that were not selected for publication will also receive $50 each. Co-authored pieces will be considered; additional payment for additional authors will be at the discretion of The New Press and CAP. The New Press, CAP, and the editors retain full and final authority over the selection of the pieces that are published and/or receive a financial award.
The New Press, CAP, and the editors reserve the right to reject or select essays for any reason allowed under law. However, essays will be selected based on the following:
I. Policy Recommendation: Applicants should clearly identify a specific issue or problem within the criminal justice system and propose a well-developed, targeted policy solution to address it.
II. Concept: Applicants are encouraged to propose new and progressive ideas for improving the criminal justice system. Policy proposals should be informed by lived experiences with the justice system.
III. Feasibility & Impact: Proposed reforms should be realistic and actionable, with the potential to create meaningful change within the criminal justice system.
IV. Readability: Successful essays will be engaging and combine narrative storytelling from the author’s own experience or knowledge, which illustrates a specific problem, with an original, constructive idea for how the problem might reasonably be remedied.