Category Archives: Stories


Below we highlight further oral histories and interviews conducted by other organizations, which further illuminate the history of incarceration in the state of Washington.

Mark Cook (2005)

As part of its Seattle Black Panther History and Memory Project, the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project posted an interview with Mark Cook. Cook co-founded the Black Panther chapter at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, and was a member of the George Jackson Brigade. Below is a series of short videos from this 2005 interview:

Oral Histories

Here, we present some of the oral histories that have been conducted through the Washington Prison History Project as well as link to other interviews with and testimonials from currently and formerly incarcerated people. The oral histories are currently a small aspect of the project, but one that may grow in the future. For a full collection of interviews, please visit the full  Washington Prison History Project Archive.

Mark Cook, Janine Bertram, Ed Mead (2018)

Members of the George Jackson Brigade at NWFF, February 18, 2018 (L-R: Mark Cook, Janine Bertram, Ed Mead)

L-R: Mark Cook, Janine Bertram, Ed Mead (2018)

On February 18, 2018, members of the George Jackson Brigade met at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle on the occasion of a screening for the film “Gentleman Bank Robber: The Story of Butch Lesbian Freedom Fighter rita bo brown.” After the film screening, members of the GJB Mark Cook, Janine Bertram and Ed Mead answered audience questions and discussed the George Jackson Brigade, prisoners, prisons, activism, and related topics.

The conversation was recorded – you can watch it in its entirety below:
» Discussion with George Jackson Brigade Members

To find out more about the film, visit the filmmaker’s website.

John McCoy (2017)

John McCoy, November 2017
John McCoy, November 2017

On November 2, 2017, Dan Berger conducted an interview with John McCoy about his book, Concrete Mama, written about the Washington State Penitentiary in the late 1970s. A transcript of this wide-ranging interview is now available. For more about the book, please also visit our Concrete Mama pages.
» Interview Transcript (PDF)

Ed Mead (2016)

Ed Mead, 2016

This interview with Ed Mead, conducted on February 16th, 2016 by MACS Graduate Students Josefina Garcia-Turner and Marcus Johnson traces Ed’s lifetime as a radical leftist, and prison activist. Ed discusses how he came to be politicized while in prison, and how those experiences led to his joining of the George Jackson Brigade in the Pacific Northwest in the 70s.
» Interview Audio (1 hour 6 minutes)

Mark Cook and Ed Mead (2012)

In an interview conducted by Dan Berger in his classroom at the University of Washington, Mark Cook and Ed Mead talk about their lives and their experiences in prison. They also talk about their activities since getting out of prison. The interview audio is available in two parts, linked below. The interview transcript is also available from the WPHP archive.

» Interview Audio, Part 1 (1 hour 51 minutes)
» Interview Audio, Part 2 (4 minutes)
» Interview Transcript (PDF)



Sharing stories is one of the most important forms of human connection. Stories help people understand and process human experience–both those we share and those we do not.

Prison is, among other things, a repository of stories. A lot of stories live within, or pass through, prison. The Washington Prison History Project aims to share those stories as a necessary way to understand what prison means for people who are there now, have been there before, have loved ones who are incarcerated, or who work or volunteer in prison–as well as for those who encounter prison only through paying taxes that fund the institution.

Currently featured in STORIES:

Voices From the Inside

On this page, we link to several video and written narratives that incarcerated people in Washington State have produced in conjunction with organizations that support them.  These interviews are not part of the WPHP archive, but are voices we want to highlight through this project.

Prisoner Writings 

Black Prisoners Caucus 

Black Prisoners Caucus YouTube page:

Black Prisoners Caucus – 2006 Summit:

Concerned Lifers Organization 

Concerned Lifers Organization 2014 conference:

Concerned Lifers Organization 2015 conference:


Tedx at Washington Corrections Center for Women:

Tedx at Monroe Correctional Complex: