How Renea Royster gives prisoners access to the digital world.
Maurice Chammah, The Marshall Project
Renea Royster at her son Phil's apartment in Perrysburg, Ohio. Maurice Chammah/The Marshall Project
06.28.2016 | Early one May morning, Renea Royster arrived at her son’s apartment, pulled out her laptop, and scrolled through the dozens of messages from prisoners that had collected in her inbox overnight. She began her daily grind of copy-paste — moving messages sent via CorrLinks, an email service available to federal inmates, to the Facebook pages they had paid her to create in their names.
Renea read out a post that one of her clients had asked her to put on his Facebook page. It was a paean to Hillary Clinton. “Everybody stops and looks her way, and when she talks everybody shuts up and listens,” she read aloud to her son Phil, who chuckled. “That’s the other type of shit that makes me hard-up! Go Hillary! You are one bad bitch!”
Maurice Chammah is a staff writer. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for a 2014 Livingston Award for a story on the decline of the death penalty, and a 2011-2012 Fulbright fellow in Egypt. He plays the violin and has toured with the band Mother Falcon.
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