Most people in the U.S. and Canada, especially those with chronic health conditions, use the internet to find reliable medical information. Yet people with HIV or hepatitis who are incarcerated rarely have access to the internet, so they can’t get the timely and critical information that in some cases can mean the difference between life and death. They rely on print media, yet there are few health information resources specifically designed for people behind bars, and there's no comprehensive, go-to resource guide primarily for people living with HIV and hepatitis. These conditions are both highly stigmatized in prison, and information about them is desperately needed.
Turn It Up! is a new one-time magazine/resource guide for people in prison, created in large part by people who have spent time behind bars. It will draw readers in with empowering energy while offering the latest on the prevention and treatment of serious medical issues, especially HIV, hepatitis and other stigmatized conditions.
Turn It Up! is coordinated by the Sero Project, a national network of people living with HIV and allies. Sero frequently receives letters from people in prison. They write of being denied critical treatments and procedures, not receiving time-sensitive medications on schedule, being egregiously stigmatized and discriminated against, and facing continuing medical neglect.
Turn It Up! will give readers practical information to help them navigate the unique challenges of getting decent health care in prison. The magazine will bring a spirit of engaged and passionate activism to aid incarcerated people in improving their health and the quality of their lives through advocacy. It is edited and published by the people who have produced the best publications on HIV and prison health—including former POZ editors Laura Whitehorn and Suzy Subways (an editor of Prison Health News for the past 5 years)—as well as other professional journalists who are living with HIV or formerly incarcerated.
Turn It Up! will also be of use to family members and friends, enabling them to become more effective advocates and partners for their loved ones in prison.
Turn It Up! is almost finished! All of the articles are written—they are currently being edited and paired with art to burst the seams of a dynamic and eye-catching original design prepared by our art director, Andrea Piccolo of Abingdon Square Publishing. If you can help us meet our Kickstarter goal—and especially if you can help us exceed this goal and raise more than $5,000—we’ll be able to send this vital resource guide to as many readers in prison as we can find.
Risks and challenges
Our main challenges are the logistics of producing the guide with the participation and engagement of people presently incarcerated, distributing it behind prison walls, and raising the funds necessary to create a visually and editorially high-quality product.
Because we are committed to involving currently incarcerated people in the magazine, we’ve sometimes experienced—and continue to face the possibility of—delays and interruptions in interviewing incarcerated people by phone and mail; the expenses of interviewing them in person and getting usable photographs of them; and delays and interruptions in mailing written articles back and forth so that the incarcerated author can make or approve editing changes and answer questions. We have already overcome most of these by planning ahead, being dedicated to following through on correspondence, and involving outside writers who are both familiar with prison regulations and respectful in dealing with the obstacles incarcerated people face.
Eight articles in the front-of-book section of the guide (out of a total of 12 articles in that section) are written by people currently in prison, as are other contributions throughout the guide. Two feature articles spotlight extensive interviews with currently and formerly incarcerated people. And two profiles of formerly incarcerated people talking about the work they do on the outside will grace the back of the magazine
In surmounting these obstacles and challenges, we have been able to educate one another on the particular quirks involved in editing writings by incarcerated people (including things like the need for anonymity in some cases, the difficulties in transferring handwritten articles to electronic versions, and the extreme discrepancies among prison regulations and procedures in various states and even within states). We have also chosen outside writers who are deeply respectful of the challenges faced by people in prison, and who are committed to the principle of involving those people in the production of articles about them.
We have already begun to approach the challenge of distributing the finished resource guide to incarcerated people in several ways. We have:
• Communicated with many groups and individuals involved in "prison work" so that they are prepared to support distribution of the finished magazine;
• Accessed mailing lists of several publishers whose journals and newsletters are sent to large numbers of incarcerated people;
• Connected with correctional health groups so that they can distribute the magazine in the course of their work inside the prisons;
• Networked with several organizations of medical and other professional personnel who work with incarcerated populations, so that we can distribute copies of the finished magazine through them as well.
The challenge of funds for travel and professional photography, writing and editing is one we have begun to overcome through individual fundraising (and the commitment and generosity of writers and editors working on the project at a reduced fee). We hope this Kickstarter campaign will help us produce a guide with an engaging design, top-quality content and powerful photography and illustration.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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