By Joshua Mitchell,  Ohio State University  ABSTRACT: In the mid-twentieth century, newspapers were published at nearly every prison in North America. These papers were written, edited, illustrated, and printed by imprisoned staffs, and they were exchanged between  editors for journalistic peer review through a network they called the Penal Press. This article describes the methods of production, reception, and most of all distribution of these Penal Press papers, focusing on the practice of trading prison papers across great distances between readers at faraway institutions. It insists that to properly understand the Penal Press, its periodicals must be studied as a collection. The necessity of understanding the Penal Press in this way, however, is circumscribed by the fact that these papers have had no central depository and are scattered in numerous archives across the continent. As Reveal Digital’s newly launched American Prison Newspapers database continues to add digitized versions of prison periodicals to its online collection, there is greater hope that a fuller history of the Penal Press will be possible.