Breaking Free: Prisoners Publish Their Stories in Zines

| March-April 2010

Read stories from prisoner zines at 

I swore that this time, I wouldn’t allow you to destroy me, to steal my life no matter what you did to me. Somewhere along the way, I found that I wasn’t a victim. I would be a survivor, a fighter. I would see my son again. I would enjoy a summer day, a cool winter night or the spring rain. I would bask in the sunshine with my lover. I would defeat you, beat you at your own game, and teach others how to survive and fight you.

 —Lee Savage, from Tenacious


Lee Savage was in prison for the third time, months into a mind-numbing stay in solitary confinement at the Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala, Florida, when she took to writing. During this stint in isolation, she says, “things started up in me.” She penned fiery essays and poems, tightly knitting the political and the personal: anarchism and class-ism, her criminal history of abuse and addiction, her experience coming out as a lesbian, and her suicide attempt during her first stint at Lowell.

Her work found a place in a number of zines—self-published, self-assembled booklets that reflect the whims and desires of the person putting them together. In the case of prisoner zines, that usually means giving men and women behind bars a voice, and a lifeline to their peers and the outside world. They’re typically distributed to and read by prisoners themselves, but a handful of copies find their way to prison activists, legal professionals, and members of the alternative media.

4/26/2010 2:57:24 PM

Just met Lee at the Civic Media Center in Gainesville. Very smart and down to earth woman....pains me that she has to fight to have her voice heard.

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