News

Damien Linnane published by 10 daily

Well it finally happened. I’m now a paid writer.

Following my interview with 10 daily last week, I was asked if I could contribute some articles on my experiences in the prison system. I’m very proud to report the first one was published today. I decided I’d start by writing about libraries in prison, and the refuge I found in them after finding out the system gives you nothing constructive to do with your sentence. You can read it here. The article even drops a link to my art account on Instagram!

I’ve been asked to write another piece, but I’m got two major university assessments due at the end of the month so I probably won’t get a chance till June. You can rest assured they’ll be more though.

Damien Linnane interviewed by 10 daily

As you may recall, I was interviewed last year by ABC News and ABC Radio Melbourne regarding the prison pen-pal ban in Victoria. Well it appears I’m now the go to point of contact in Australia for any information on writing to prisoners, something I’m quite happy about. Last week Antoinette Lattouf, a journalist from Network Ten, got in touch wanting an interview about the difficulties writing to prisoners in Australia.

As you can see from reading the article, which went live earlier today, Australia is a long way behind other first world nations when it comes to  pen-pal programs for prisoners. Still, being effectively forced to write to overseas inmates instead of Australian ones has been an interesting and rewarding experience.

Call for submissions to Paper Chained

Submissions for the third issue of Paper Chained are now open. Paper Chained is a journal of expression for prisoners and ex-prisoners, their family and friends, and anyone affected by the criminal justice system. Submissions of all kinds are accepted, including personal stories, poetry and short fiction. If you or anyone you know might have something they’d like to share please get in touch with Running Wild, the organisation that runs the journal. You can find their email and postal address here.

This year I’ll either be submitting the first chapter of my novel Scarred, or the prologue of my upcoming autobiography. I haven’t decided which yet, but either way I intend for this to serve as a teaser of sorts, hopefully providing entertainment and also generating some interest in one of my upcoming books at the same time. I have some time to think about it though; submissions are open until October 31st this year, with Issue 3 scheduled to drop sometime in November.

The fundraiser to help cover the costs of running the journal is also still open. Please click here to contribute.

‘Free Bobby Bostic’ now on social media

Last November I wrote a post about Bobby Bostic. Earlier last year I read about his case in an article on BBC News. Bobby was sentenced to 241 years in prison for armed robbery and other non-homicide/non-sexual offences when he was 16 years old, effectively giving him no possibility of parole. For a mistake made as a child, Bobby will never be able to re-enter society, no matter how much he rehabilitates. Even the judge who sentenced him, Evelyn Baker, has written about how she regrets giving him such a disproportionate punishment. By comparison, Bobby’s co-offender, who was an adult, only received 30 years for the same crimes.

I found Bobby’s case so unjust that I wrote him a letter of support. It wasn’t long before I received a reply. He has now become one of my regular pen pals in prison, with our correspondence continuing for over a year. Bobby had an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States last year, which was, like many appeals to the court, unfortunately denied without reason.  He is now in talks with lawyers and lawmakers regarding his options to get released. Following the cases of Cyntoia Brown and Alice Marie Johnson over the past year, it has become apparent that public support certainly doesn’t go astray when it come to obtaining clemency for prisoners given unjust sentences.

I’m proud to announce I’ve initiated a social media campaign to raise awareness and support for Bobby’s case. You can now follow the handle @FreeBobbyBostic on Instagram and Twitter, though I must admit you’ll have to bear with me while I teach myself how Twitter works. There are also two petitions for Bobby’s release, one on Change.org (which is now run by myself having revived and taken it over from its previous creator who had abandoned it), and one on DIYRootsAction run by other friends of Bobby. Please follow the accounts for more information on Bobby’s case and sign the petitions if you haven’t already. If you’re interested in getting involved further, please get in touch.

Read Along Dads helps keep families together

Being a parent is never easy, or so all my friends with kids keep telling me :). But imagine being a parent from prison, with extremely limited time to talk to your children on the phone or have them visit you. The charity Read Along Dads (RAD) has an initiative to help with rehabilitation, by connecting families in prison with their loved ones and encouraging literacy skills among children (and sometimes the inmate!) at the same time.

RAD records inmates reading bedtime stories, then sends both the recording and a copy of the book to the inmate’s child. Children can then read along and listen to their parent’s voice at the same time. RAD now operates in two Victorian prisons, has worked with over 600 inmates and has helped make over 1,300 recordings.

Learn more by visiting the website, where you can also get in touch about making a donation. You can read coverage of RAD’s work by News.com.au here.