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Works of literature like songs, poems, books can sometimes come out by coincidence when the accused is in prison. In some instances, it might happen after they are freed from jail. Most people do not have ideas of the origin of their best literary works; whether it was written and produced before being jailed, while still in prison or after release. In most cases, topics that most of these literary pieces base their education and arguments are not limited (Jodi, 23). These works have influenced people, informing them of their beliefs or educating them about what they did not know before. This paper gives more details on examples, forces and the changes to prison literature.

Academicians went to jail for the principles they stood for. Some people were standing for the rights of slaves, calling for changes in prison lives or opposing the harsh rules that led to their detention. They were championing for a change, standing for their rights and calling for justice. The old governments were dictatorial and sent a majority to prison for what they were championing (Lars, 24). In other instances, people got inspiration from the sufferings in prisons and wrote their books. Common genres are poems, songs, and fiction stories. Apart from the three, autobiographies also form an important class of encouragement to the readers.

The first example of such pieces is a poem in 1968 by Etheridge Knights. Knights was in prison for eight years after being judged and found guilty of robbery. His sufferings inspired other poets to call for his parole. At the Indiana state prison, Knights was facing a tough battle and had thoughts that prisons were a form of slavery that the state was using to punish others (Jodi, 17). He considered a change of these and wanted people to find the right ways of solving their disagreements. When he came out, his book was one of the bestselling. These created a wave of expectations from prisoners. Most people waited for the release of their books while they served their jail terms[“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
On the same note, people got inspiration from Malcolm X and his life in jail. He had the passion for leading amidst life’s struggles and his state as a prisoner. In the twentieth century, he came out from prison to be a Muslim leader, with great inspirations. He became a minister of the Muslim faith and religion. During his time, he was the angriest man that people knew from the black race (Erickson, 6). Upon realizing the importance of friendships to humanity, he became calm as an encouragement to other people. When he wrote his Autobiography, people bowed to the strength of his words and power of inspiration. Most people draw lessons of religion and leadership from his piece of work even up to the present.

Singing while in prison is another common literary feature. The words uttered in songs are usually conceived in the hardest moments when an individual’s emotions are high, and people have a lot to think. Merle Haggard released a song called “Mama Tried” that speaks about a young man who was disobedient and could not follow the advice by the mother until he ended up in prison (Erickson, 8).  These songs are commonly in cautioning other people who have no ideas of what is going on in the world. Young people often have the agility to live their chosen lives. These happen because of the little understanding they have of life’s journey (Cahill, 9). Their actions end up confusing them. Sometimes, they land themselves in trouble by often engaging in outlawed activities that only create space for them in jail. These lessons should guide any young person who gets frequent advice from people or family members. When their words are continuously repeated, it means they have strong beliefs about the situations they are facing.[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

The influence of these different works of literature is everywhere. Some literature resulted into the establishments of proper government systems for a fair trial in courts. The book by Knights was influential to different leaders and championed for the reforms in judicial systems. Malcolm X inspires millions of people around the globe to work for what they believe is best for them.  It is worth noting that what inspires one group of persons might not necessarily inspire another (Lars, 21). People can only have inspiration from their interests. If the work of one writer or composer was not appealing to one group of people, it might be appealing to the other. These are different ways people approach these prison literature.

Some works from prison did not reach their intended readers. The intention could be to incite violence or speak too much evil about states or individuals. In other parts of the world, people spent their lives in jail after their literature works (Cahill, 7). Most of these were books about governments that were dictatorial. If a country changes its constitution to provide more freedom, writers find the opportunity to come out of jail and talk about their experiences. Most of these are advancements in freedom of speech and expressions and strict observance of defamation laws. If people could justify their statements, they stood chances of writing more work.

People may be wondering how prisoners published their books while in prison. In most cases, some writers were doing their research and collection of materials for their books in secret. Outside assistants are usually of much help in this scenario. They create a communication link with the people; making contacts with the family members to produce these books. Their starting points are usually difficult like getting the writing materials where they pen down their ideas without the notice of authorities. Serious work comes when they get out of prison and they need to finish their pieces. In the event they are under probation by the police, their activities are under surveillance.


In the current days, fewer works of prison come out. Prisoners are no longer the brilliant type who had the zeal to fulfill their longings under the hardest of conditions. It may be because of the reduced reading and academic prowess in the current generations (Cahill, 71). The old time prisoners were sharp people, academically strong and with inspiration. Their zeal for books and knowledge drove them to spread the same to people from all corners of the world. Some countries also have laws that bar people from writing while in prison.

In the future, people may have nothing to write and read in the prisons. More criminals, mostly uneducated are getting to prisons. They are academically empty and can have nothing to share. Expecting something from them will be a dream. If the current circumstances change in courts and people find themselves in prisons where they can have enough time to read and write, then more literature is along the way. Without these changes, we are not in a position to get any more works.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

In conclusion, prison literature has a long historical timeline. People have their best books from prisons, written in the hardest of situations. Best compositions of songs were done in prisons or inspired by life in prisons. Lives profoundly influenced poem dedications in jail. It is better to have an understanding of what the prisoners were going through to have our source of inspiration. Their works inspire changes to the society and personalities. The current days are changed, and few writers exist. The zeal and inspiration to write seem to have ended. The future will likely reflect the current trends.

Works Cited
Cahill, Bryon. Freedom of speech and expression. Red Chair Press, 2014.

Erickson, Arnold. Prison writing in 20th century America (3rd ed., pp. 5-11). Penguin Books, 2013.

Jodi, Schorb. Reading prisoners: literature, literacy, and the transformation of American punishment, 1700-1845. Rutgers University Press, 2014.
Lars, Svendsen. A philosophy of freedom. Reaktion Books, 2014.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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