John Purugganan

This page is updated and maintained by Robert Moulthrop, who met and contacted John through his essay "You're In Prison" originally published in The Sun, October 2006. Read about John and his achievements below, and keep an eye on the main blog, which often features short pieces written by John. 

In addition to correspondence with John Purugganan, this page also occasionally publishes the writing of life-without-parole prisoners Michael McKinney, John Catanzarite, and George Cameron.


John Purugganan has been serving a sentence of life without parole since 1989 in a California prison. He was an associate editor of and contributor to “Too Cruel, Not Unusual Enough,” a collection of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry from prisoners serving life without parole, an anthology published by The Other Death Penalty Project. His essay “You’re In Prison” was published by The Sun in October 2006 (Issue 370) and was subsequently listed in the “Notable Essays of 2006,” section of the Best American Essays 2007, edited by David Foster Wallace and Robert Atwan. His essay “My Cellies,” published by qarrtsiluni in 2011, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His essays have been anthologized in Honor Comes Hard: Writings from California Prison System’s Honor Yard, edited by Luis J. Rodriguez and Lucinda Thomas, and Psychology and Personal Growth, by Nelson Goud and Abe Arkoff. His essay “Death Without the Possibility of Parole” received an honorable mention by the PEN America Prison Writing Awards 2012-2013, and both his poetry and non-fiction writing were listed as finalists for the INK: Prison Writing Contest, hosted by Vidahlia Press and Publishing House in 2014. His essay “To Imagine Angels” was published in WordsUncaged Prison Journal, and featured on Sentences Podcast, sponsored by the California State University, Los Angeles. He is the author of numerous manuscripts, plays, and screenplays, including the play "Let’s Keep Dancing," a prizewinner in the first annual Arts in Correction Playwriting Contest in 1992, and currently under developmental review by The Public Theatre in New York City.

Links To JOHN's Writing