Date on Honors Thesis

Fall 12-10-2021


Criminal Justice



Examining Committee Member

Dr. Paul Lucko, Chair, Advisor

Examining Committee Member

Dr. Katy Hancock, Committee Member

Examining Committee Member

Justice Bill Cunningham, Committee Member


The average person is unaware what life is like for those in prison. People watch movies, read books, and hear stories about prison life, but never actually know what it truly consists of, and instead carry a faulty narrative. In order to better understand prison life, this thesis project will examine letters written by inmates across the state of Kentucky. Examining these letters will share the topics which inmates discuss most frequently. Themes such as everyday matters, maltreatment by staff, favors from judges, complaints about bureaucracy, and other matters will aid in the understanding of their current lives and changes that have resulted from the prison experience. Aside from the analysis of the letters, this project will also share ideas from Judge Cunningham, to whom the letters were written. The analysis of these letters will not only give insight into a side of life that we do not recognize but will also share valuable information about how a judge may perceive the content in these letters.