The Marshall Project

I Met My Friend in Prison. Now I Doubt His Innocence.

A prison volunteer's belief in second chances faces a difficult test.

“Did the police contact you?”

My heart stopped upon reading this out-of-the-blue text message from my old friend, James. I replied that I was just checking out at the grocery store, but that no, the police had not contacted me. I said I would call him later.

Life Inside Perspectives from those who work and live in the criminal justice system. Related Stories

He didn’t tell me what it was about.

James was someone I had met while volunteering in the maximum-security wing of a state prison some years before. I was involved in prison ministry, helping a priest who visited inmates in segregation, where the men are on lockdown for 23 hours a day.

The “seg unit” where James lived was a noisy place. Located

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