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Michigan Penal Publications

Introduction: Penal Publications at the Library of Michigan

One of the many unique collections at the Library of Michigan consists of penal publications. These are periodicals published by and for inmates at jails, prisons, and reformatories. Occasionally, items are also published by inmates for those outside the institutions.
The periodicals often contain materials provided by the institutional administration, plus local news and sports, comics, updates on legislation and institutional procedures, self-help articles, poems, stories, and articles written by the inmates. Many institutions in Michigan have produced such publications, most notably Jackson State Prison, the Industrial School for Boys in Lansing, Branch Prison in Marquette and the Girl’s Training School. Other institutions have experimented with these publications and only produced a few issues. The oldest penal publication currently identified in the Library of Michigan’s collection is an 1893 issue of the Bi-Monthly Bulletin from the Industrial School for Boys in Lansing. However, most of the collection consists of items published between 1930 and 1990.  
The production of these periodicals served a number of purposes. Primarily, they gave the inmates something productive to do with their time. Writing, publishing and printing also taught a number of marketable job skills. Writing for the papers gave inmates a creative outlet. Finally, at some institutions, writing seems to have been encouraged for its therapeutic value.
Penal publications provide a valuable source of information about prison life for researchers and families.

Penal Publications by Institution and Title

For the sake of organization this list is ordered by location first, then institution, date, then title. Nearly all of these collections are incomplete.

Adrian: Girls Training School

The All Star Journal: 1955-1950?

GTS: 1960-1962

Journal: 1963

Campus News: 1963-1965

Get the Scoops: 1965-1966

Gazette: 1966

Battle Creek: Michigan Youth Challenge Academy

Yearbook: 1986-1987

Coldwater: Florence Crane Women's Facility

The Flow: Females Learning Other Ways: 1986-1987

Insight: Serving the Women of Florence Crane's Women's Facility: 1988-1991

Detroit: Ryan Regional Correctional Facility

The Ryan Regional Review: 1922

Holland: D.C.R. (Dunes Correctional Facility)

Lakeside Onlooker: 1985-1987

The Dunes Onlooker: 1987-1988

Ionia: Michigan Reformatory

Hill Top News: 1934-1988

News Bulletin: 1986-1996

Ionia: Michigan Training Unit

Oracle (Michigan Training Unit Oracle): 1983-1987

Ionia: Riverside Correctional Facility

The Riverside Voice: 1986-1987

Jackson: Michigan State Prison

School News: 1930-1932

American Prisoner: 1933

The Spectator: 1930-1991

New Look: 1966-1969

Other State Prison produced publications:

A Trip Through Michigan State Prison: Sold as a Souvenir as a Benefit of the Prison Band: 1910

Souvenir: Michigan State Prison, Jackson as under Warden Hulbert: 1920

Industrial souvenir, Michigan State Prison, as under Warden Hulbert: 1922

The Michigan State Prison, Jackson 1837-1928: 1928

The Nightkeeper's Reports 1882: 1954

The SPSM Trusty Division year book: an annual devoted to the betterment of the prison trusty: 1955

Year Book (other title Trusty Land): 1958, 1964

Kincheloe: Hiawatha Correctional Facility

Insider: 1992

Kincheloe: Kinross Correctional Facility

The Link: 1979-1991

The KCF Link: 1991-1992

Lansing: Industrial School for Boys

Bi-monthly Bulletin: 1893

Industrial Enterprise: 1904-1925

The Vocational Enterprise: 1925-1955

Lapeer: Thumb Regional Correction Facility

Thump Prints: 1987-1988

Marquette: Branch Prison

Marquette Inmate: 1933

Northlander: 1933-1948

The Beam: 1963

The Weekly Progress: 1960-1971

North Star: 1987-1994

Muskegon: Muskegon Correctional Facility

Factor: 1984-1995

Plymouth: Phoenix Correctional Facility

Phoenix Voice: 1984-1989

St. Louis: Mid-Michigan Correctional Facility

St. Louis Blues: 1990-1992

Ypsilanti: Huron Valley Men's Facility

Huron Valley Monitor: 1984-1987

Ypsilanti: Huron Valley Women's Facility

D.A.W.N. / Determined Action for Women Now: 1984-1987

For Further Reading

Baird, Russell N., The Penal Press.
MAIN PN4888 .P75 B2 1967

Franklin, H. Bruce, The Victim as Criminal and Artist.
REFERENCE Z1229 .P74 F7 1982

Richter, Andrew, ed., Through the Wall : Prison Correspondence.
MAIN HV8657 .T57z

Trupin, James E., In Prison: Writings and Poems About the Prison Experience.
MAIN HV8491 .T78