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This project takes you inside the walls of British Columbia’s federal penitentiaries. Utilizing over 80 years of data from prisoner-written and produced newsletters, as well as interviews and correspondence with former contributors and editorial staff, we offer first-hand accounts of the carceral experience.

Prof. Robert Gaucher and Prof. Melissa Munn collected, preserved, and catalogued these publications as part of a long-term project to preserve a ‘history from within’ in an open-access archive ( This website allows for a robust and inclusionary social history to emerge and provides a crucial source of sociological and historical evidence. The penal press both augments and complicates administrative and public accounts. This project also draws attention to how marginalized groups can bring about social reform.

The B.C. Penal Press Project includes:

  • a traveling exhibit which is available for loan, at no cost, to any institution or library in British Columbia;

  • video vignettes which will provide an overview of the penal press, how it documents life in B.C.’s federal penitentiaries and will ask the viewer to consider the question, “have prisons fundamentally changed over the past 100 years?”; and

  • this website which serves as the hub for all components, including a digital version of the exhibit.

B.C. Penal Press Project

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