When Luke Whyte moved to San Francisco looking to be a writer, he ended up with an unexpected job: editor of the prison insider publication, CorrectionsOne. While there, he attended conferences of correctional officers (including the famed Mock Prison Riot in West Virginia) and covered just about any prison-related issue that came his way. Whyte’s subsequent job choice is perhaps more surprising than the first: using his contacts and insight to find and tell the stories of those involved in the correctional system–all the while hitchhiking around the state of California, living out of a tent, and resorting to things like showering with a gas station hose to keep clean.
Why do it? At CorrectionsOne, reading and writing constantly about prisons, inmates, and prison officers, Whyte says he noticed that “not all angles” of the stories were being told–specifically, the “slice of life,” humanizing stories that paint round pictures of both inmates and correctional officers, who’re often one-dimensional in media accounts.
Whyte has already begun his quest–starting in Northern California and working his way around the state to talk with former prisoners, retired correctional officers, and anyone who has insight into the phenomenon of corrections.
You can check out his blog, Voices of Justice and also look for upcoming stories here at the Informant, where Whyte will be contributing regularly.