How to Quit Smoking and How to Not Start Again

By Arielle Horowitz

From PHN Issue 38, Fall 2018

Most smokers know that smoking is bad for their health, but they also know that quitting smoking is not easy. According to the American Lung Association, quitting smoking can be easier if you know your reasons for quitting, talk to a doctor, understand what to expect, and get help. Federal prisons and almost half of state prison systems prohibit smoking cigarettes indoors and outdoors, but more than half of states still allow smoking in prison yards. For those who quit smoking while in prison and are soon to be released, it is important to think about how to not start smoking again outside prison. Continue reading “How to Quit Smoking and How to Not Start Again”

Planning for Life After Lockup

By Eric McCaa

From PHN Issue 37, Summer 2018

Imagine you have just been released from prison. What do you plan to do with your freedom? Finally eat some real food? Buy some Jordans? Get laid? Engage in your other favorite past-times? And then go report in at the parole office? If this sounds like a good parole plan, you obviously did not spend enough time planning for your future. Maybe what you need is to devise an effective parole plan to enhance your chances for success. Continue reading “Planning for Life After Lockup”

Words to Live By

Advice from a formerly incarcerated person living with HIV

From PHN Issue 37, Summer 2018

1. Take care of yourself. Make your health your top priority. Ask for what you think you need. Don’t wait for someone to take care of you. Advocating for your health is a constant job, especially in prison or jail. Continue reading “Words to Live By”

Preventing Opioid Overdose after Release from Prison

By Kathryn Hawrot

From PHN Issue 36, Spring 2018

What are opioids?

Opioids are drugs used to control moderate-to-severe pain, obtained through a prescription or illegally. They include oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Roxicodone), oxymorphone (Opana), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Norco), morphine, codeine, heroin, fentanyl, buprenorphine, and methadone. Some street names for opiates are Captain Cody, kickers, juice, footballs, Apache, TNT, smack, dope, China white, pink, Miss Emma, and M. Continue reading “Preventing Opioid Overdose after Release from Prison”

National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls Launched

From PHN Issue 30, Fall 2016

The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls held its first organizing meeting in New York City on December 2015. Since then, the Council has been convening organizing meetings state by state. Thousands of formerly incarcerated women and girls have participated in the meetings. Our goal is to include the participation of women and girls in federal and state prisons, county and state jails, and immigrant detention centers. Continue reading “National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls Launched”

Preparing for Your HIV Care on the Outside


From PHN Issue 30, Fall 2016

If you are going to be released, there are a lot of things to think about first. Are you going to get medical assistance? How will you continue to get medical care for your HIV? Where is a good medical provider you can see? What happens if you can’t pay for medical care? How can you make sure that you won’t miss any medications? Does your prison or jail give you a supply of medications, a medical discharge summary and/or the name of a doctor to see once you are out? There is a lot to plan for. Below are some tips to help you to plan for your HIV care on the outside. Continue reading “Preparing for Your HIV Care on the Outside”

There’s No Shame in Love

by Jose de Marco

From PHN Issue 19, Winter 2014

I’m Jose de Marco. My father was Latino, my mother was African-American. I’m a man that loves other men.

   I believe if people were more accepting of who they are, they would not care when other people criticize them about who they love. But you have to get to the point where outside influences—whether it’s church, your teacher, your mother, or your brother—your happiness cannot depend on the permission of other people. Continue reading “There’s No Shame in Love”

Rising Above HIV Discrimination

By Joel Laux, M.C.C.F. Montgomery County, PA

From PHN Issue 16, Spring 2013

I am HIV Positive, and have been so for about eleven years now. I also am an IV Drug user. I have had personal experiences involving discriminatory practices in the law or its application. Although I have not been actually prosecuted in a court of law for an HIV specific criminal statute, I have been threatened with it. Continue reading “Rising Above HIV Discrimination”

NO JUSTICE!: When Sex Work Brands You as a “Sex Offender” in New Orleans

by Deon Haywood and Laura McTighe

From PHN Issue 10, Spring 2011

Since our founding in 1991, Women With A Vision, Inc (WWAV) has been standing with the women of New Orleans, no questions asked. We have been trusted with stories that few others hear. But little could have prepared us for that day when ‘J’ pulled out her photo identification card, which read ‘SEX OFFENDER’ in block orange letters. As she explained how she had gotten picked up during a Mardi Gras round up and charged with a crime against nature, she was filled with anger and pain that marked this as the latest instance in a long history of exploitation. She is only 23 years old, one month clean from an 8 1⁄2 year heroin addiction. The ‘sex offender’ label will remain on her ID until she turns 48. Continue reading “NO JUSTICE!: When Sex Work Brands You as a “Sex Offender” in New Orleans”

Cellie Rap

by Brian Lafferty, a formerly incarcerated contributor

From PHN Issue 3, April 2004

A conversation between two inmates: Frank, an old head who has been through the system more times than he chooses to remember, and Luis, a young man doing his first bid. They are cellmates, talking during count time.

Frank: So, you about up, huh? Feel good, right?

Luis: Man, you don’t even know. Get back, see some girls, make some money. Been too long.

Frank: Hear that. You want some coffee? What you doin’ when you out?

Luis: What you mean, what I’m doin’? You know what I’m doin’, man.

Frank: What’s your plan? What you got set for yourself?

Luis: What you talking about?

Frank: You got to plan for this.

Luis: Man, I ain’t fittin’ to stay up in here planning something. I’m out, dog. I’m out.

Frank: Coffee’s ready. You think about that program they was talkin’ up?

Luis: That state thing? Man, now I know you crazy. Damn, this coffee’s hot. Thanks.

Frank: That state thing gonna keep you outta here. You know the street’s gonna bring you back.

Luis: Man, I’m goin’ home, meeting some girls, my man Tony gonna get me a spot, make me some money. Be where I know everyone. All I got is four months and a wakeup. I’m golden.

Frank: Them girls is what got you here in the first place. How you expect to go out slinging for Tony and not bring back a hot urine? You know what happens you do that? Be right back here, drinking packets of coffee and doing pushups.

Luis: I got willpower. I ain’t coming back.

Frank: Man, willpower and a box of x- lax is the same thing. A load of crap. You go where you know everyone, means everyone knows you. And your business. Do that state program, it’s a whole new start. Max out, clean urine, you done.

Luis: Done. After a 30 day blackout. I wanna be out, man. Out. I need some money. Can’t make no money there. You know that.

Frank: What you need all this money for? Do this program, walk off your last 6 months of probation, they hook you up with some schooling, a job. Then, only time I see you will be a visit. Right?

Luis: Right. That does sound good.

Frank: Think about it. It’s your life.

Luis: Yeah. It’s my life.