Kite Line is a weekly radio program and podcast that focuses on issues in the prison system and beyond.

On the inside, a message is called a kite: whispered words, a note passed hand to hand, or a request submitted to guards for medical care. 

Illicit or not, sending a kite means trusting that other people will pass it farther along, until it reaches its destination. 

We make this show to pass along words, across the prison walls


Recent Episodes

287 | How Prison Hides

This week, we share two features dealing with the cunning ways that the carceral system conceals itself and the harm it causes.  The first is an account from Adrien Espinoza, who has been on the show before, speaking about conditions in the Maricopa County Jail. As a child, Adrien survived the Adobe Mountain School in Arizona.  As he demonstrates, this “school” is actually a euphemism for juvenile prison.  This prison inflicted severe punishment, sexual abuse, an absence of mental health support, and lack of education on its young inmates.  Content warning for sexual abuse and

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286 | Sick in the Indiana Women’s Prison

This week, we air an interview with WFYI reporters Lauren Bavis and Jake Harper in Indianapolis. They co-host the podcast called Sick, the second season of which focuses on health care issues in the Indiana Women’s Prison. As they share on the show, the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic ignited their interest in IWP and and led them to research how health care was being managed in the facility. As they developed their communication with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, however, much more came up beyond COVID-19. Content warning for discussion of suicide

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285 | We Understand How They’ll Play with Our Lives in Here

The explosive spread of the Omicron variant has brought our focus back to the COVID-vulnerability the prison system imposes on its captives. This week, we speak to two people — one outside and one inside the walls — dealing with the effects of COVID on California prisoners.. We start off with an interview with Olivia Campbell, an advocate for prisoners based in Sacramento who has appeared on Kite Line before. For background, she paints a troubling picture of systematic medical neglect since the beginning of the pandemic, including disturbing treatment of disabled and elderly prisoners in

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284 | Russell Maroon Shoatz, In His Own Words

This week, we honor the late Russell Maroon Shoatz. On December 17th, Russell Maroon Shoatz passed away. In 1970, Shoatz was convicted for the murder of a police officer in Pennsylvania and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. On February 20, 2014, Shoatz was returned to the prison’s general population after being held in solitary confinement for 22 consecutive years. Shoatz was granted compassionate release on October 26, 2021, while suffering from a terminal illness. We share part of an interview with Shoatz, recorded on August 15th 1996, at

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283 | Revolutionaries in Isolation

This week, Mwalimu Shakur calls us from inside Corcoran prison in California to share his experiences in the Secure Housing Unit. He’s been on the show before, talking about the gladiator fights used by guards to punish and control the imprisoned population. Housed in Corcoran for decades, he describes how he kept going under such extreme isolation.  We will have links to our previous episodes with Mwalimu on our website. Last week, on December 17th, Russell 'Maroon' Shoatz passed away. In 1970, Shoatz was convicted for the murder of a police officer in

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282 | Carceral Nonprofits

We are sad to report that Russell Maroon Shoatz, who was recently granted compassionate release after his decades in prison, has passed away. This week, we return to the final part of our conversation about carceral non-profits with Zhandarka Kurti and Jarrod Shanahan. Kurti is a professor of criminology and Criminal Justice at Loyola University Chicago, and Jarrod Shanahan is a professor of criminal justice at Governors State University in Chicago. Bella Bravo interviews Zhana and Jarrod, who are abolitionist scholars researching incarceration, and in recent years, their work has

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