Christopher William Blackwell ︎
@chriswblackwell ︎︎︎
 JPay: WA 813709 

Christopher William Blackwell, 42, is a Washington-based award-winning journalist currently incarcerated at the Washington Corrections Center. He is serving a 45-year prison sentence for taking another human’s life during a drug robbery--something he takes full accountability for. He has been incarcerated since 2003.

He was raised in a mixed Native American/white family in the Hilltop Area of Tacoma, Washington. During his childhood, Hilltop was one of the roughest places to live in the country — ravaged by over-policing, gangs, violence, and drugs. His first experience of incarceration came at the age of 12. By the age of 14 he had dropped out of school and followed in the path of neighborhood role models by becoming a drug dealer. He was in and out of juvenile detention centers until the age of 22 when he was given his current prison sentence.

A lot has changed in the 30 years since his first experience with incarceration. Today he's earned a college degree, become a leader in prisoner-led mentor programs, a restorative justice facilitator, and a voice for many behind prison walls experiencing extreme injustices on a daily basis.

Christopher and his wife, Dr. Chelsea Moore, co-founded Look 2 Justice, a grassroots organization led by criminal legal system-impacted people that works to transform the legal system by providing civic education and empowerment programs for incarcerated people and their loved ones.

Having experienced the injustices and traumas of the system — long stents in solitary confinement, abuse at the hands of staff, and retaliation — Christopher has opened up to share his and many others’ stories in hopes of educating society.

His work has been featured across the country in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, HuffPost, Marshall Project, Insider, Jewish Currents, BuzzFeed, The Appeal, and many more. He is currently in the process of working on a book manuscript about solitary confinement.

In 2024, he was named Prison Journalism Project’s Prison Journalist of the Year, won second place for their categories on Most Impactful Journalism and Best Collaboration, and third place for Best News Story. He won the 2023 Institute for Nonprofit News Breaking Barriers Award and Narratively’s 2023 Memoir Award. He was a finalist for a 2022 ONA award. In 2021, he was a 2nd place recipient of a Simon Rockower award. He has received reporting fellowships and grants from Type Investigations, the Ridgeway Reporting Project, and Shadowproof. 

Christopher works closely with Empowerment Ave, a nonprofit organization that uplifts the voices of incarcerated writers in the mainstream media. This partnership has helped him connect with publishers across the country. Christopher founded and leads the Writers Development Program, a branch of Empowerment Avenue. Through this program, Chris has mentored two cohorts of incarcerated writers. In the program’s first year, Chris’ mentees collectively published over 70 pieces in outlets across the country. 

Being a voice for so many who are often not able to do so for themselves is something he finds to be an honor and quite humbling.

To contact him directly, email or follow him on Twitter @chriswblackwell. If you’d like to add him on JPay, his Washington DOC number is


Christopher is a contributing editor with The Appeal and a contributing writer with Jewish Currents and Tacoma, Washington’s The News Tribune, his hometown newspaper. Find a selection of his work below. 


I’m in prison because I committed a crime, People like me deserve the right to vote | Tacoma News Tribune

Birds Will Be Birds | Writing Class Radio

Eric Adams’ Thoughts On Solitary Confinement Are Dangerous And Cruel | The Appeal

The Invisible Labor of Women Who Love Incarcerated People | The Nation

Chaos and Noise | Narratively
How Incarcerated People Are Building Political Power In Washington State
| The Appeal


Prison Telecom Giant Deletes Months of Incarcerated Writers’ Work | The Appeal

When You’ve Been on Both Sides of a Gun | The Trace

The climate crisis is pushing Washington’s prisons to the brink | High Country News

Prisoners Say New Jersey’s Alternative To Solitary Confinement Is Pretty Much The Same | HuffPost

WA Prison Deters Participation in Restorative Justice By Ordering Strip Searches | Truthout

California prisons price gouge necessities, leaving people struggling to pay for soap | Sacramento Bee

Unlocking the Black Box of In-Custody Deaths | The Appeal

Incarceration of a Nation | Zeke Magazine

Wildfires Are A Dire Threat To Incarcerated People Like Me | The Nation

Prison Can Be a Hostile Place. Then the Birds Came. | The Appeal

The Unceasing Noise of Solitary Confinement | The Progressive

How Toxic Masculinity Drives Homophobia in Prison | The Appeal

Our Prison Is Used to Mental Illness. Taking Care of Our Own Was New. | Filter Magazine

Two Decades of Prison Did Not Prepare Me for the Horrors of County Jail | The New York Times

Prison Labor: Where ‘Dead-End’ Jobs Meet 21st Century Slavery | The Appeal

In the Hole | Jewish Currents

Washington State Bill Would Undo ‘Superpredator’-Era Sentencing Scheme | The Appeal

Comment: State’s criminal justice system needs thorough reforms | Everett Herald

Washington Prison Mishandled Court Mail, Impeded Access To Justice
 | The Appeal

State’s criminal justice system needs thorough reforms | Everett Herald

Use of juvenile records in adult sentencing is unust | Everett Herald

The Harms of Solitary Confinement During Covid | Counterpunch


What It Means To Spend The Holidays Behind Bars | The Appeal

Lessons on Love and Incarceration from Chicken Sticks the Dog | The Progressive

The Chicken Farmer and the Soccer Mom | The Progressive

These Dogs Lived In Prison With US--And it’s created something beautiful | HuffPost

State Must Allow Civic Engagement in Its Prisons | Everett Herald 

Incarceration on TV is Nothing Like the Prison Where I Live | The Progressive

It Took Going to Prison to Recognize My Toxic Masculinity | The HuffPost

Reading While Incarcerated Saved Me. So Why Are Prisons Banning Books? | The New York Times

I Was Arrested For Weed At 12 Years Old. It Changed The Entire Course Of My Life. | HuffPo

Restorative Justice Circles Help Many Address Violence, Trauma | Prison Journalism Project

I Grew Up Believing I Was Dumb. A College Education Behind Bars Healed That Wound | The Marshall Project

I’ve Spent the Last 19 Years in State Prisons — My Signature $50 Nachos Are Helping Me Through It All | The Kitchn

‘When You Learn, You Don’t Return’: How Education in Prison Reduces Recidivism | The Progressive

Buying a Home is Hard. Doing it While Incarcerated is Near Impossible | The Appeal

Reforming Laws From Behind Bars | YES! Magazine

Finding My Way in Prison | The Progressive

Comment: For those in prison, the covid pandemic isn’t over | Everett Herald

The Visionaries Running a Worm Farm In Prison | Modern Farmer

The Pandemic Isn’t Over In Prison and It Might Never Be | The Appeal  

Surviving Yet Another Prison Quarantine | Jewish Currents


How Prison Writers Struggle To Be Heard | The Appeal

State Prisoners Need Chance To Earn Earlier Release | Everett Herald

As a Woman In a Men’s Prison, This Is the Transphobia I Face Daily | Them

I'm in prison and I just had my first contact visit in 500 days. To reduce recidivism, prisons need to prioritize human contact.  | Insider

Prisons Said It was COVID Isolation. The Incarcerated Describe Torture | HuffPost

Abolish all forms of solitary confinement in Washington State | Seattle Times

“Left in the Dark” Covid Behind Bars | the Drift

As the Delta Variant Surges, Prison Guards Refuse to Get Vaccinated | The Progressive

A Bunch Of Bunnies Showed Up In My Prison Yard And Then A Beautiful Thing Happened | HuffPost

As an incarcerated person, I wish the Delta variant was taken as seriously in prisons as it is on the outside | Insider

Voices from Solitary: Everyday Torture | Solitary Watch

The Weight of Depression After a Year of Isolation | Prison Journalism Project

Roasting in a Western Washington Prison | Jewish Currents

Smells, Rot Plague Washington State Reformatory | Prison Journalism Project

The Prison Grievance System Is Broken and Unjust | The Progressive 

Expired Vaccine for Monroe prisoners a shot to trust | Everett Herald

Some Prisons Reinstate Patdown Search Although Guards Are Refusing Vaccination | Truthout

I’m an incarcerated person. I know for a fact that Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict isn’t ‘accountability.’ It’s just punishment. | Insider

Voices from Solitary: Why Did They Choose Antonio? | Solitary Watch

It’s time to reform state’s sentencing reforms | Everett Herald

Quarantined in Solitary is Still Solitary | Prison Journalism Project

Letter to my younger self: hard-won insights from an incarcerated writer | Boston Globe

In Prison, COVID-19 Precautions are a Form of Punishment | The Progressive

What it’s like to celebrate Passover in prison | Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Prisoners like me haven’t had contact visits in a year. As the world reopens, we deserve to see our loved ones. | Insider

Just A Kid | Compassion Prison Project

COVID-19 Restrictions Are Threatening Education Access in Prison | Prison Journalism Project

Prisons are highly skeptical of the COVID vaccines because of decades of mistreatment. It’s up to the government to reassure them. | Insider

For a prisoner, protecting health is an infraction | Everett Herald

Here’s The Truth You Aren’t Hearing About The COVID-19 Crisis Ravaging My Prison | HuffPost


Should the crime always determine the time? | Everett Herald

Giving stimulus checks to incarcerated people ike me doesn’t just provide relief for our families — it also helps us feel connected to the rest of America. | Insider

My Prison Is Still Flouting Public Health Guidelines | Jewish Currents

COVID-19 is spreading wildly in prisons like mine. We should get the vaccine early. | Washington Post

Notes From a Wild Election Week Behind Bars | The Marshall Project

I married the love of my life while in prison. We had to stand 6 feet apart and couldn’t kiss, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. | Insider

Mask Messages | Jewish Currents

When you are cellmates with a pandemic | Everett Herald

Juvenile Records Should Not Be Used In Adult Sentencing Enhancement. Here’s Why. | Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

I’m Living in Fear of COVID as New People Get Transferred Into the Prison I’m In | Truthout

When Torture Is a Health Precaution | Jewish Currents

Voices from Solitary: Fighting the Coronavirus in Prison with Transfers, Isolation, Threats, and Game Boys | Solitary Watch

How Prison Turned My Childhood Friend Into a Neo-Nazi | The Marshall Project

Watching the Protests from Prison | Jewish Currents

Companies Are Using Pandemic to Squeeze Money From Incarcerated People Like Me | Truthout

In Prison, Even Social Distancing Rules Get Weaponized | The Marshall Project

‘You’ve Got Masks: Stop Complaining’ | The Crime Report

COVID-19 Prison Dilemma: Is Security More Important Than Health? | The Crime Report

Here’s What Happened To Two Prisoners When A Guard Got The Coronavirus | BuzzFeed News/The Marshall Project

Policy Work 

Civic Education & Empowerment

Chris is the co-founder of Look2Justice, an organization that works to empower incarcerated people and their loved ones with the skills to navigate legislative and policy change so that they may advocate on their own behalf and are not dependent upon the charity of organizations run by people who do not have lived experience. Through this work, Chris has been invited to testify in front of the Washington State Supreme Court and the Washington State Legislature

Restorative Justice

Chris is a trained and certified restorative justice facilitator who is affiliated with Collective Justice, a transformative justice nonprofit founded by survivors of violence. Chris uses his restorative justice skills to mentor other incarcerated people and help them heal from trauma. 


Chris works with Empowerment Avenue to provide consultation and support to mainstream media outlets on how to meaningfully include the voices of incarcerated people in their publications. In this capacity, he has spoken on panels and developed guidelines for media outlets. 

Chris is available for one on one consulting and for speaking (through recordings and over Zoom) about the work he does in these areas.

Press and Panels

Mass Incarceration As Mass Censorship | The Bell Collective For Critical Race Theory At Harvard Law School

Chips Writing Lessons #93 | Chip On Your Shoulder

The Impact Series | Busboys and Poets

An Incarcerated Writer Slammed Conditions at Pierce County Jail. We Should Listen. | The News Tribune

County Jail vs. State Prison: A Currently Incarcerated Person Explains the Difference | KUOW/NPR

Christopher Blackwell, Prison Journalist and Organizer | AWKWORD

“The pen became my sword and a way to stand up for myself.” | Famous Writing Routines

Resisting Repression: On Writing From Prison | Jewish Currents 

An Incarcerated Writer Fights Book Bans in Prisons
The Take Away 

Why this Man is Fighting For Access to Books While Incarcerated
 | As it Happens

Inside Stories | CJR

Grateful for a Wedding in Prison | New York Times

Trying To Marry My Incarcerated Partner During COVID-19 Was A Nightmare, But Love Prevailed | HuffPost

Prison Tech Firm JPay Says It Has Restore Writing Access | The Wrap

Impending Monroe Prison closure leaves inmates, families reeling over the future | KUOW/NPR

Second chances and fresh starts for criminalized youth | Rep. David Hackney letter

As virus wanes, Monroe prisoners still isolated by new rules | Everett Herald

With fewer inmates, state prepares to close prison units | Everett Herald

About Time: How Long and Life Sentences Fuel Mass Incarceration In Washington State | ACLU of Washington